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What is an international asset?

Often in marriages, either spouse can have international assets overseas. This can include properties abroad, such as holiday homes, investment property, bank accounts or shareholdings in another country. These can be held jointly or in one spouse’s sole name.

During financial proceedings arising from divorce, details of all assets in the UK and abroad must be disclosed. International assets can be included in the final order made following financial settlement proceedings.

Enforcement of the court order

Following the conclusion of proceedings and the court granting a final order, if one spouse fails to comply with the order, then enforcement of the order in a foreign country where the assets are held will be required.

The process to enforce international assets depends on what country the assets are located in and what agreements England has in place with that particular country. Enforcing a financial court order in relation to overseas assets can be a challenging process.

There are numerous conventions, regulations, statutes and statutory instruments regulating this area, making it a highly complex area of law.

Generally, countries in the EU, commonwealth and America have agreements in place with the UK for the recognition of financial court orders. England has reciprocal arrangements with a number of countries to enforce court orders, dealing with maintenance and overseas assets.

With some jurisdictions, there is often more than one legal route to enforce an order. With other jurisdictions, there may not be any legal route to enforcing an order and there may not be any agreements in place between that country and England. With some countries, there may even be variations of enforcement in relation to different parts of a particular state.

General principles with international assets in divorce

When an individual is seeking to enforce an order in another country, consideration should be given to the following:

  • Whether the order is one that may be enforced within that regime, as not all types of orders are enforceable under every applicable statute/convention
  • The location of the assets and the parties
  • Whether to obtain advice from a foreign lawyer
  • The type of order
  • Whether help can be obtained from the Reciprocal Enforcement of Maintenance Orders (REMO) Unit
  • The likely costs of making the claim and the potential realisable assets
  • Whether an order made in the other country would be more favourable

There are various and wide-ranging legislative provisions that apply in relation to EU and non-EU countries for the purpose of international enforcement of assets.

Therefore, this should be examined on a case-by-case basis. It is necessary to check the statute or convention carefully.

Enforcing a financial order in relation to overseas assets can be a challenging and complex process. However, we can work with lawyers in relevant jurisdictions where the assets are located to ensure that your financial order is upheld.

How can Specters Solicitors help?

If you are dealing with any type of divorce including an international assets claim then one of our specialists can help guide you through the process. Get in touch today for a no obligation consultation, fill out our enquiry form or call 0300 303 3629.