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At AFP Bloom we have a bilingual team of lawyers to help with Anglo-French law and other European cross border disputes. Members of our tream have specialized in this field for almost 20 years resolving hundreds of disputes, and helping international clients along the way.
Jurisdiction Disputes and Anglo-French/ European family law

Some couples on separation must decide where their dispute on children or finances will take place. This is known as a jurisdiction choice. Sometimes there can be a court dispute about this issue.

In many cases the rules are clear. For instance, under the Hague Convention 1996 on Parental Responsibility, then the dispute will be decided in the location where the child habitually resides i.e., where their home is.

For financial cases, the questions can be more complicated. For instance, the divorce can take place in one jurisdiction and questions of child maintenance can be decided in another. This will occur where spouses share a common nationality say of France or Germany - allowing the divorce to take place in those countries under EU rules. But child maintenance issues would be decided in England and Wales if the child lived there.

There can be a divorce race which will allow a divorce to proceed in the country where the divorce was issued first. There is, since the UK left the EU, less of a black and white outcome in these divorce races. For instance, the English court has the discretion to send the divorce to a court abroad if that court has a stronger connection with the case (for example parties living there for most of the marriage, or assets based there, or common nationality there, or a combination of these things).  

The choice of jurisdiction matters for two important reasons. First the English courts offer more generous financial settlements, in most cases, than their European or other foreign equivalents. Second, the European continental legal systems operate marital regimes which fix in advance how the assets will be split. This is entirely different from the England and Wales system. Here assets are split on a discretionary basis according to fairness.

In financial cases clear advice right at the outset of a case is desirable about where is the best jurisdiction to issue. In some situations, there is no clear answer either way. There, parties should not rush to court to seize one jurisdiction and should instead focus on the main divorce issues.

For further bilingual advice please contact William Healing at or + 44 20 7409 1222
Anglo-French and European financial issues

In any divorce situation it will be important to assess the value of a prenuptial agreement or a foreign marital regime. These documents often feature in Anglo-French separations.

With assets abroad it will be important to get accurate and timely valuation of assets wherever they are located. It will often be necessary to communicate with experts in French. The same need for prompt tax advice applies, again communicating where necessary with experts in French. The treatment of tax on assets and income between France and England varies greatly.

The enforcement of orders between England and France has got more complicated since Brexit. It usually requires two steps: a court declaration of enforceability, and then the actual enforcement.

There is a wider range of financial remedies available on separation before the courts of England. These include the provision for children in wealthier families and sometimes financial remedies after a foreign divorce.

For further bilingual advice please contact William Healing at or + 44 20 7409 1222
Anglo-French and European children cases

Child relocation cases occur where one party seeks, against the wishes of the other, to relocate a child with them abroad. These cases are difficult since there is usually no negotiation or compromise possible between country A (England) and country B.

For the departing parent it will be necessary to put a detailed prospectus of information before the court showing the likely new home, school, family connections if any, the parent’s work plans, and as much as possible about the new environment of the child.

In Anglo-French cases a French speaking social worker will be desirable to investigate the circumstances in the proposed new country of residence.

As well as relocation cases, we deal with child arrangements across borders, and a wide range of other parental responsibility issues.

For further bilingual advice please contact William Healing at or + 44 20 7409 1222
Prenuptial agreements in an Anglo French or European context

We advise on the choice between French and English marital agreements. France has a system of matrimonial regimes as do all other civil law countries (including all the main French speaking jurisdictions like Belgium, Switzerland, Monaco, and Canadian jurisdictions). These mean there is a relatively limited choice of how to divide assets on divorce. For instance, the common regimes are a separation of assets regimes or else a community of property regime which shares assets acquired during the marriage.

The recognition of civil law marital regimes, including those from French speaking countries, is relatively limited in England. In all civil law countries, the regimes are 100% binding.

English prenuptial agreements are designed to persuade the court to limit the financial provision in favour of the weaker financial party. There is a wide range of provisions and clauses that can be included.

They have no contractual force (under current law) but if properly drawn up are likely to be influential on a court at the time of separation and divorce.

English prenuptial agreements are relatively easy to enforce abroad, provided they have been drafted by a lawyer with experience of international cases.

For further bilingual advice please contact William Healing at or + 44 20 7409 1222