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International Jurisdiction

Monday 28th of October 2019
By: Kate Trajcevski, Special Counsel & Accredited Family Law Specialist, Coote Family Lawyers

I am very fortunate that at this stage of my life, I have found the right lawyers to use for all my future legal matters.

Where in the world should I determine my property division?

When your relationship is international

In our modern, highly mobile world, it is not uncommon for parties to a relationship to have lived in more than one country, or to have accrued assets in Australia and overseas.  You might be a British immigrant with a pension in the UK, a Chinese permanent resident with assets in Singapore and mainland China, or an Australian ex-pat living in Hong Kong with a holiday home in Australia. 

Where in the world should you determine your property division?

The Australian Family Court may have jurisdiction over your property division, even if you do not live in Australia at the time of your separation.  Similarly, if you live in Australia but your assets are in a foreign country, the Australian Family Court may still have jurisdiction over your property division.

How does the Australian Family Court determine whether they have the power to make orders about your property division after separation? 

Unless the Australian Court decides that Australia is "clearly inappropriate" to determine your property division, it has the power to do so.  There are a number of factors which the Court will apply when deciding this, including:

  1. Of which country are you a citizen?
  2. In which country are you domiciled?  Where is your partner and/or your children domiciled?
  3. Are there already other proceedings in Australia, or in the foreign country (for example, for divorce, parenting arrangements and/or spousal maintenance)?
  4. In which country did most of the relationship take place?
  5. Are Australian Family Court Orders recognised in the foreign country? 

This list is not by any means exhaustive, and each may be applied differently, depending on your specific circumstances. 

Just because you can, should you?

Family Law across the world varies enormously.  The property division considered appropriate in Australia may not be the same as the property division in a foreign country.  Similarly, a property settlement or maintenance orders obtained in a foreign country are not necessarily binding on an Australian Court.  Again, it depends on the foreign country and the circumstances of your case.

Need more help?

Understanding whether Australia is the right place to determine your family law property division is complex.  If you need specific advice about your circumstances, contact the team at Coote Family Lawyers, recognised as being the best divorce lawyers in Melbourne, on +61 (0) 3 9804 0035. 

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