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Filing for divorce in Australia is generally a straightforward process. Complexities may arise however, where there is an international divorce. Similarly, in family law the process of obtaining property settlement orders to determine the division of matrimonial property can become complicated if the parties own property in several different countries and jurisdictions.

A recent decision in the Full Court of the Family Court of Australia defines the impact of an international divorce obtained in another country on the process of determining a family law property settlement matter in the Australian Family Law Courts system. It also informs parties as to the process of dealing with property settlement spread out over several different countries and jurisdictions.

Recent Court Ruling offers Guidance

In Anderson & McIntosh (2013) FLC 93-568, it involved a couple who married in Australia in 1988. They had been living in country B since 2006 and separated there in 2009. In 2010, the couple divorced in country B. Following the divorce, the couple received property settlement orders for the property in country B, but there were no orders provided for their property in Australia. The determination of an application for property orders pursuant to the Family Law Act 1975 determined that when parties hold property in several countries, an application for property orders must be filed in each jurisdiction in respect of the property in that country. Australian Court orders are not strictly enforceable in another country.

What you need to know about International Divorce and Property Settlement

At Owen Hodge Lawyers, we understand how complicated and emotionally taxing divorce and family law property settlements can be. To help, we have compiled a list of important things that every Australian couple should consider before filing for an international divorce or property orders overseas.

  • If you were married in Australia, but are living in another country, you are considered as an expatriate of Australia. This means that you will have the legal rights to file an international divorce in both countries.
  • If you got married in Australia, but are separating or contemplating an international divorce in another country, it may be beneficial to obtain a divorce in Australia rather than overseas. The primary requirement to obtain a divorce in Australia is that the parties were separated for at least 12 months.
  • In the event that one spouse remained as a resident of Australia, lived in Australia at any time within the 12 months period, or considered Australia as his/her home with the intent to live there primarily, the divorce and property settlement could be within the jurisdiction of the Australian Family Law Courts.
  • In Australia, there is a 12 month time limit to file an application for property settlement with the Family Law Courts after the date of divorce. The deadline for other countries may vary, and you should seek legal advice from our experienced family lawyers to understand the legal requirements to file an application for property settlement in another country.
  • If you own property in more than one country, you will be required to file appropriate applications for property orders based on the individual jurisdiction of each country.

Get the Guidance you need to Protect your Rights

No matter what the details are, divorce is never an easy process, particularly when it involves more than one country and jurisdiction. Your divorce and/or property settlement can become confusing and overwhelming. It is important to use the right procedure and adopt the appropriate rules according to your jurisdiction.

At Owen Hodge Lawyers, we understand how complicated and emotionally taxing international divorce and property settlements can be. Our experienced family lawyers offer guidance for couples who are divorcing and have assets or property in Australia and other countries.

Our team of legal professionals offer comprehensive services that protect our clients and find suitable, equitable resolution for even the most complex family law property settlement cases. Call us today on 1800 770 780 or contact us via email at ohl@owenhodge.com.au and let us help you evaluate your options.