Enforcement of Foreign Financial Orders

In divorce proceedings a foreign order or judgement may be issued in one jurisdiction in an international divorce case where one party is awarded an asset based in another jurisdiction. e.g married and lived in Germany, after divorce ex-wife moves to the UK and the German court awards her property based in the UK.

Some jurisdictions have formal agreements that make foreign orders easier to enforce. If this arrangement does not exist, a court case may become more complex.

We have experience in dealing with enforcement of foreign orders, and we can help you enforce any such order.

International divorce cases, from other jurisdictions are usually concerned with securing assets as part of the settlement. Such orders can be obtained in one jurisdiction, with the aim of being enforced in another.

The UK has reciprocal arrangements with a number of other countries to enforce UK orders, but this is mostly regarding maintenance. This could include the enforcement of financial orders outlining the provision for the children in whatever country the paying parent resides.

For UK divorces with overseas assets, such as property and pensions, the situation is more complex. For example, a court order made in England or Wales to enforce a property sale or transfer may not be recognised in the country where the property is located. If you are issuing a divorce in the UK but have property abroad, you may need expert legal help to make sure that your best interests are represented in the arrangements made.

Similarly, if your divorce has been secured abroad, you may need a subsequent order from the courts in England and Wales to deal with UK-based assets.

There are certain criteria that need to be satisfied before a court in this country will accept that sort of application, and much depends on your connection with the UK and whether there is a treaty between the UK and the originating country.

A variety of conventions exist which provide for the registration and enforcement of maintenance orders made in this country abroad and vice-versa. This is known as reciprocal enforcement. Under some treaties maintenance is defined purely as periodical payments. Under others, it also includes capital lump sums. The reciprocal enforcement proceedings available in each case depend on the terms of the convention or other arrangements in place between this country and the other country concerned.

In many cases, the foreign court has a right to vary the order on the application of the defaulting party. However, in the countries of the European Union and other European countries the judgment is fully transportable. This means that it may only be varied, if at all, by the English court and the courts of the other country may not refuse to recognise it on any ground.

In the absence of reciprocal enforcement arrangements, it is necessary to commence a fresh civil action in the court of the country concerned, seeking enforcement of the English judgment. Enforcement by this method is generally limited to enforcement of lump sum or costs orders.

These proceedings are generally speaking not available for maintenance orders, because such orders are liable to retrospective variation by the English court on the application of the defaulting party, if the court considers that it would be unfair to enforce the order because of a change of circumstances.

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