Leonie Burke, Associate
Every year, vast numbers of Brits travel to countries all over the world on holiday, where they meet, and on occasions, romance with foreign nationals, either local or a fellow tourist from an entirely different country. Most holiday romances are fleeting things. However, for some they can be longer lasting.
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If you are considering a move abroad to cement your holiday romance, it is crucial to do your homework first and know what potential legal consequences there may be if the relationship doesn’t work out.
You may be thinking about getting married, either out of love and commitment or to secure your residence in that foreign country. However, have you thought about where you would stand if it came to divorce at some point down the line?
There are very different laws for divorces across the world. What rights you have, what you might be entitled to financially, or what your spouse may be able to claim from you can be vastly different depending on the country where your divorce is dealt with. You may not necessarily be able to have your divorce dealt with in your country of origin and you may be stuck having to deal with the foreign courts, applying foreign laws.
Where there are children of the relationship, the potential consequences can be particularly dire and far-reaching. If there is a child of the relationship, you may find yourself effectively trapped in that foreign country (unless you leave the child behind). Your desire might be to return home where you have family support and assistance with childcare, but in most countries you will need consent of the children’s other parent or leave of the court to relocate home with your child.
In the absence of such consent or permission of the court, it could be a criminal offence to leave with your child.
There is also a strong chance that you could become subject to an order of court making you return the child to that other country under one international convention or another (the main one being the Hague Convention on International Child Abduction, which applies in most Western countries and other English speaking countries throughout the world).
The practical effect of this is the distinct possibility of being stuck in a country which you have no connection with other than it being the country of origin of your ex; where you may potentially be entitled to very limited financial provision from your ex; and where you may have little childcare support.
If you are thinking about moving abroad to further your holiday romance, always take specialist family law advice before doing so.