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Change in prenup laws could benefit expats

Source: Expatriate Healthcare - Tue 11th Mar 2014
Change in prenup laws could benefit expats

Expatriates could be among those who benefit from changes to the law regarding prenuptial agreements if they are passed by the British government.

At present, there is no legal force behind the documents, which are often seen as the proviso of the super-rich, but that may not always be the case.

The Law Commission, a body that advises the government on changes to the law, has recommended that prenups should become legally binding in the UK.

This could have an impact on expats, as it would mean that the country where their divorce proceedings are carried out would already be determined and there would have been great forethought as to how possessions would be divided.

Prenups can be obtained even if a couple has been living abroad for a while and their jurisdiction is not dependent on the country where the marriage took place.

Emma Collins, a partner at Weightmans LLP, which specialises in family law, told the Telegraph: "Many countries have a separate set of rules about the correct law to apply to the financial aspects of a divorce, and while some impose their own law – which may become problematic when dealing with assets remaining in the UK – others will instead seek to apply English law.

"Therefore, divorcing in a foreign jurisdiction but applying English law may require the couple to pay for advice from experts in two different countries, significantly increasing the overall cost of the divorce."

It has been seen on many occasions that one party in the divorce seeks to have the matter settled in a different country, as they know that they will get a more favourable settlement.

A prenup drawn up in Britain will prevent such tactics from being used in the future and commit any divorce proceedings being carried out elsewhere.

Even before prenups are given a legally binding status, Ms Collins recommends them for expats starting a new married life together, as it provides greater protection for wealthier spouses and much needed clarity in the instance of divorce.

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