Divorce Settlements: England or Scotland?

Divorce Settlements: England or Scotland?

Following the current divorce case of Aristocrat Michael Villiers and his estranged wife Emma, arguing whether this should be settled in an English or Scottish court.

The couple lived for all but one year of their 17-year marriage in Scotland. Mr Villiers filed for divorce in Scotland in 2014, however three months later, Mrs Villiers applied to the English courts for financial maintenance of £10,000 a month.

The argument is due to the fact that under Scottish law, inherited wealth is not taken into account when dividing assets and maintenance pay-outs are limited to three years. However, in England Emma could secure financial support for the rest of her life.

Simon McKirgan, a divorce lawyer at Vardags, comments:

“The English courts are amongst the fairest in the world of divorce – taking a view which sees marriage as a partnership and valuing equally the contributions of homemaker and breadwinner. The courts also have much greater powers to deal with inherited assets, or those held through trusts and companies, than many other jurisdictions. The difference between an English award and that made in another country can be vastly different.

This, of course, means that securing jurisdiction in the English court is vitally important. The English courts do not open their doors to just anyone who wishes to take advantage of our divorce laws, but rather requires spouses to demonstrate a real connection to this country, and are constantly on guard against “forum shopping”. If a financially weaker party can, however, demonstrate that in England they fulfill the requirements of jurisdiction, they can expect far fairer treatment than elsewhere.”

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