Anglo French Family Law

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If you are a French national living in England, or an expat living in France, and you are considering divorce, separation or marriage, you should take advice from a specialist family law solicitor.

French speaking solicitor Claire Wood offers an expert Anglo French family law service; she has over 10 years’ experience in cases involving French nationals, and has acted in many cross border cases involving France, Belgium, Switzerland and Luxembourg. Claire has strong relationships with foreign lawyers and can refer you to a French lawyer when needed.

Photo of Claire Wood

Claire
Wood

Senior Associate

Claire gives compassionate and realistic advice on the legal issues arising on divorce or separation, including financial claims and the arrangements for children.

Please click on the links below for further information about this specialist service:

Anglo French divorce

We offer an expert Anglo French family law service giving you cost effective advice on the choices available to you. Claire Wood has many years of experience in cases involving French nationals and English couples living in France or a French speaking country.

If you are a French national living in England or an English national living abroad, you may have a choice of where to start a divorce process. It is crucial that you obtain quick and early advice so that you can decide which jurisdiction will be best for you.

There are substantial differences between the French and English courts in terms of financial outcome on divorce and the court process. Due to European Regulations, the ability to start a divorce process is based on habitual residence or joint nationality/domicile. The effect of this Regulation is that you may have a choice of jurisdiction within Europe where the courts of two countries could potentially hear the divorce and associated financial aspects.

The way the European Regulation works means that the first court seised of the divorce, (i.e. when proceedings are issued), will deal with the proceedings. This gives rise to a “race to court” or “Eurostar divorce” where one or both parties are under pressure to secure their preferred court. We can give you advice about the best jurisdiction for you and we can act quickly to secure your interests.

Prenuptial agreements and marriage contracts

French nationals regularly consult us about the prenuptial and postnuptial agreements available to them (and family members) in England. Prospective clients are often surprised and alarmed to understand that their French marriage contract is not automatically enforceable or relevant in England, in the event of a divorce here.

There are significant differences between a prenup and a marriage contract (contrat de mariage) and the legal systems of France and England have a very different approach to premarital agreements. We will work in collaboration with French lawyers to ensure your position is protected, when necessary, in both countries. If one (or both) of the couple is a French national, or they have assets in France, a cross border agreement may be necessary to ensure the agreement is relevant in both England and France in the event of a divorce.

What are the differences between an English prenup and a French marriage contract?

A French marriage contract is very different to an English prenuptial agreement. Our expert French Anglo solicitor Claire Wood explains these differences on our blog.

It is also not certain that an English prenuptial agreement will be recognised and upheld in France (in the same way that a French marriage contract is not automatically enforceable in England).

Which agreement do we need?

If you are living in England, it is likely that you will need an English prenuptial agreement to protect assets in the event of divorce. A simple French marriage contract is unlikely to be upheld to protect assets if the divorce proceeds in England.

Clients need to consider the cost of a prenuptial agreement; the agreement is often more expensive to draft than a simple marriage contract and lawyers will need to give detailed advice to each of you about what rights are being given up by signing the agreement.

Relocation of children

On the break-up of an international marriage or relationship, very often one parent wants to move back to their country of origin with the children of the relationship. If the other parent does not consent to the relocation, a court application may become necessary (called a “leave to remove” application i.e. asking the court for “leave”, meaning permission, to relocate the children). French speaker Claire Wood has a wealth of experience dealing with cases where the proposed relocation is to France, or another French speaking country.

The approach taken in the early stages of this litigation is crucial to a successful outcome. We have extensive experience in contesting and pursuing these applications and we will give you clear and strategic advice. We understand the significance emotionally and practically where one parent wishes to relocate and the stakes are high.

We have a proven track record with successful outcomes for our clients. It is important for you to take advice and we will help you make those legal and practical decisions early on to prepare your case successfully.

Rayden Solicitors is committed to equality and diversity and in doing so supports and advises all members of our community.

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