International Divorce – Dealing With Overseas Property, Wills, Power of Attorney and Pensions

International Divorce – Dealing With Overseas Property, Wills, Power of Attorney and Pensions

Going through a divorce is never easy, but what comes next can be made even more challenging when one party wishes to move abroad or has assets overseas. Perhaps one party wants to move back to their home country to be with family and friends, or maybe there is property abroad that needs to dealt with. Unfortunately, once divorce is granted, that is not the end of unravelling the life that one had with one’s spouse; there are still several legal matters to attend to…

Enforcing a financial consent order abroad

If divorced in England and Wales, but one or both parties to the divorce have property or income abroad, a financial order in another country may need enforcing, which can be challenging.

This may involve needing to seek a financial order abroad,  such as when an overseas property is to be sold or transferred. There may also be a need for an overseas financial order if a former spouse has relocated to another country and they are to make maintenance payments. Advice from an experienced international family law solicitor will be needed in relation to how to enforce such an order, as this will depend on the circumstances and the country where it is to be enforced. Similarly, such documents may need to be translated into the official language of the locale in which is needed to be enforced in order to be recognised by the local authorities.

Updating your Will

It is also essential to review one’s Will after a divorce. If a Will has been made in England and Wales, then the Will is still valid in the event of divorce but may not be fit for purpose. Many people appoint their spouse as an executor and make them the main beneficiary of their Will. However, the effect of divorce on the Will is that it treats the spouse as if they passed away before maker of the Will. This means that the spouse will no longer be able to inherit from the Will or act as the executor. Although this may be what one may like to happen, this leaves significant gaps in one’s estate plan. Another person will need to be appointed to act as executor and decide who inherits from the estate.

Change your Power of Attorney

Similarly; most people will appoint their spouse as their attorney. However, the effect of divorce is that it will terminate the former spouse’s appointment as attorney, so one may be left without a power of attorney in place. It is essential to have an attorney in place to provide peace of mind to move forward. Where a power of attorney is being exercised in relation to assets or a beneficiary overseas, related documents may need translating into the language of the relevant locale.

Pensions if one partner moves abroad

Pensions can be a complex area of financial settlement in divorce, even more so when one party lives abroad or wishes to move overseas in the future.

It is not possible for the courts in England & Wales to make a pension sharing order against a pension held in a foreign pension scheme. However, a former spouse can transfer their pension funds into an overseas scheme, meaning one could lose out on pension income if this is not properly addressed as part of a financial settlement. Typically, the courts prefer a ‘clean break’ regarding pensions and will make a pension sharing order, which divides pensions right away. This is compared to a pension attachment order, which determines that a percentage of a person’s future income will be paid to their ex-spouse once the pension holder reaches retirement age.

Contact IMD Translation – Because in Legal Matters, Language Matters

If you need advice regarding international divorce or what comes next, get in touch with our sister company, IMD Solicitors.

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This article is for general information only and does not constitute legal or professional advice. Please note that the law may have changed since this article was published.