Expats: ten things to consider when separating abroad

Moving abroad is a huge decision which can often challenge even the most stable of relationships.   Life in a new country can lead to feelings of isolation and loneliness. Establishing a new social network can be challenging. If things don’t work out, facing a separation whilst away from everything that is familiar to you can be extremely daunting and leaves many people in a vulnerable position. Your family and friends are often thousands of miles away and the emotional and psychological impact of separation can be very difficult to deal with without this support network.

If you find yourself in this situation, it is important that you think about how best to protect yourself and your family:

  • What are your legal rights and responsibilities in the country you are living in?
  • How long can you remain where you are living? Do you need, or have the right sort of visa to remain immediately and in the long-term?
  • How can you ensure stability for your children in the short-term?
  • Will you all stay living together for the time being? If not, where will you live and how will this be financed?
  • Thinking long-term, will you want to stay where you are or return home?
  • Do you need to find work / another job?
  • What is the financial impact of separating (both in the short and long-term)?
  • What are the best arrangements for the children for the future (where they will live, go to school etc)?
  • If you are married, can you get divorced in the country you are living in, or where you are from? Which would be the better option for you financially?
  • What is the best way of talking to your ex about a separation, the children, finances and moving on?

Depending on your circumstances you may need to move quite quickly to find out if you can stay where you are living and to ensure that you are legally protected in the best way possible.

Seeking early advice is essential so that you know your rights and can form an action plan to help you move forward.

Speak to a lawyer in your home country and consider taking legal advice where you are living.  Divorce laws abroad are often less favourable or comprehensive than in England and Wales, depending on your financial position, and so it is important to find out whether you are eligible to get a divorce in England and Wales.  You should also consider whether you should go ahead and do so quickly, if there is a risk that your spouse may try to start divorce proceedings in the country where you are living.   Even if you aren’t ready to divorce, it’s important to understand the alternatives and the impact this can have on you financially.

Going through a separation can be one of the most stressful times of your life and so it’s important to look after your own health and well-being, as well as caring for your family.  A good lawyer can help talk you through options for support and how best to approach your separation with a long-term view, especially where children are involved.

If you are a British expat living abroad and facing a separation (or know someone who is) and in need of practical, sensible advice, please get in touch.






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