The new D-Day

The new D-Day

The first full week of January often sees a surge in divorce enquiries

Studies have shown that more people enquire about divorce in the immediate aftermath of the Christmas break. Perhaps it is the pressure of having a perfect day, or the extra time together putting pressure on an already strained relationship. It could be that the peak in enquiries and calls to counselling services like Relate are tied to New Year resolutions and the wish for a fresh start in the New Year.

The rules of divorce

There are variations in the law and requirements for spousal and child support across the world. More fascinating is that the rules about how divorce can be brought about vary from country to country. For example, in Samoa, a woman can legally divorce her husband if he forgets her birthday. In Kansas, failure to show your mother-in-law the utmost respect is legal grounds for divorce. Or perhaps we should take the example found in Australia; if an Aboriginal woman wishes to get divorced, she can try to persuade her husband to agree or, to instantly end the marriage, she can just tie the knot with another man!

While these may be light-hearted examples, divorce can be difficult and made more complicated if one of the parties lives abroad. If you’re the receiving party then make sure you organise for an English financial order to be enforced in a foreign country. The procedure was streamlined under EU law, but it’s not clear what provision will be provided after Brexit. It may be that a deal can be reached on how this is managed, but otherwise it will operate similarly to how it has been in the rest of the world. This require working within legal systems which vary from country to country so it’s worth putting in some research. In addition, seek advice to take advice from a local lawyer and from the ‘REMO’ (Reciprocal Enforcement of Maintenance Orders) Unit.

Tax on spousal and child maintenance

It’s also worth checking the taxation rules. In the UK, spousal maintenance and child support are entirely tax neutral. It is paid out of taxed income and is received free of income tax. However if either party is taxed abroad there are complications. While Australia and the US also consider these payments tax neutral, there are a number of countries where maintenance payments are treated as taxable income and the recipient may find themselves paying tax upon it and/or where the paying party can still deduct against higher rates of income tax. This needs to be taken into account in any divorce settlement both at the outset and on any review or variation. These countries include Ireland, Italy, Portugal, Netherlands and Belgium.

Paying for the cost of divorce overseas

If you’re paying divorce fees, spousal or child support from overseas, an international payments account can help you manage those payments at great rates and with low fees. In addition, you can manage it all online and set up regular automated payments to avoid any problems of missing an installment. If you’re receiving support payments in currency, an international payments account can ensure that you get the best value from that support and that the cost of divorce is not made higher by poor exchange rates and high fees.

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