We have frequently divorced South Africans from citizens of many other lands. This has included serving court papers in an amazing array of countries, including England, Scotland, Australia, New Zealand, Thailand, the USA, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Morocco and others that we no longer recall.
In addition, we are often contacted by people in other countries and asked for information concerning legal rights and processes in this country. In one case, our client was in Bali, while her husband was in Hong Kong; we negotiated the divorce settlement from here, issued documents via the High Court in Durban and served them abroad before our client flew in and appeared in court to obtain the decree of divorce.
When a couple has married in another country, the proprietary consequences of the marriage might be governed by the laws of South Africa, or by the laws of the country in which they were wed – a number of factors impact the situation. One thing is always clear, though – the actual marriage ceremony is governed by the laws and practices of the country where the ceremony takes place, whereas the proprietary consequences of a marriage may be governed by the laws of the land where one or both of the spouses is domiciled. Domicile is a legal concept – the place of your domicile is the place that you regard as your ‘home’, even if you have been away from it for a lengthy period.
The divorce action, if it takes place here, will be governed by the laws of South Africa. The Divorce Act provides that the proprietary consequences of that divorce may be determined by the laws of the country where the marriage took place; this can be complex, as the laws of countries differ quite markedly from one another. Research is required to ascertain the details in each case and evidence may be necessary to inform a court of the rules that it must apply in the event of a dispute over assets.
Just as service of court papers can be effected in countries that are far apart, so too must negotiations often be conducted remotely. E-mail led to a reduction in communication delays and the advent of video conferencing has improved matters even further. Divorcing couples and their lawyers can ‘meet’ online (via Skype, Zoom or other platforms) to discuss settlements, including arrangements for children. Providing the individuals and lawyers at both ends have collaborative mind-sets and cultural sensitivity, an international divorce can be settled almost as if the parties were resident in adjoining suburbs.
CONTACT US TODAY by e-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org) to arrange a free 15 minute WhatsApp or online consultation to discuss your international divorce.
9 May 2018
Family Law Specialist lawyers and mediators; Divorce; Parents & Children; Grandparents; Cohabitation; Curators; Maintenance; International Divorce; Domestic Violence and more.