Paris – the city of love.
Rome – the eternal city.
New York – the city that never sleeps.
London – divorce capital of the world.
While the UK’s capital might have hoped for a more romantic association, its lawyers could hardly have asked for a more lucrative one. For a range of reasons, the UK in general and London in particular has become a magnet for the super-rich who are falling out of love.
International visitors value the even-handed approach and discretionary elements of English divorce law. And they will be aware of the eye-catching financial settlements of recent years:
- In 2006 insurance broker John Charman was ordered to pay his wife Beverly £48m.
- In 2008 Heather Mills was awarded £24.3m in her highly publicized split from Sir Paul McCartney.
- In 2011 Russian oligarch Boris Berezowsky is believed to have agreed a payment of £220m to his wife of 20 years, Galina Berashova.
More international and commercial arbitrations take place in London under English law than in any other city in the world. Added to this, the Times has reported that one case in every six that come before courts in England and Wales include an international element. With so much at stake, financially and personally, there’s no room for error in the presentation of evidence. Every word and every nuance matters. When a client’s native language isn’t English, translation and interpreting from a proven legal specialist will convey information precisely, in sense and spirit, giving other professionals the platform to do their jobs equally well.
Those seeking to end a marriage in the UK will find few jurisdictional barriers in their way. It’s not necessary for either spouse to be British born or British domiciled to file divorce proceedings under English law. Jurisdiction can be established through residence of either party, or sometimes simply by the proof of a commercial connection to the country. And for both parties, there are firm arguments in favour of a London settlement.
English Courts recognise that there should be no discrimination between the contributions of a homemaker and breadwinner in a marriage, so the starting assumption in all cases is an equal division of matrimonial assets. While this has been refined to allow exceptions, it remains a compelling point.
Crucially, Pre-Nuptial and Pre-Marital Agreements have no statutory force in England and Wales. They may be looked at on a case by case basis as part of the tapestry of a marriage, but won’t be given the weight they receive in other territories.
It’s also fair to say that overseas citizens seeking legal representation may be attracted to the UK by the quality of the professionals who practice there. Long standing leaders such as Farrer & Co continue to balance their clients’ emotional and economic interests with consummate skill, while Stowe Family Law have proved for decades that London has no monopoly on quality. The firm has a London presence along with five offices in the north of England, and is home to some of the country’s most respected practitioners.
Divorce capital of the world may not be the most romantic title, but when it signifies fairness and professional competence it’s nothing to shy away from.