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Key Considerations for Expatriates Seeking Divorce in Glasgow

For expatriate couples navigating divorce in Glasgow, understanding the legal landscape and exploring alternative avenues can be crucial in easing the emotional and logistical burdens.

Whether you are unsure which country is best to divorce in or which path of separation is right for you and your family, we can help.

In this blog, we delve into key considerations for expatriates seeking divorce in Glasgow, shedding light on the benefits of mediation, thoughtful custodial arrangements, and the benefits of an amicable divorce process.


The rise in expatriate divorce

In recent years, there has been a sharp increase in the number of families who have ties to more than one country. Whether it’s because of work, family or any other number of reasons, moving abroad has also become increasingly popular.

With this rise in expatriation of married couples comes a rise in divorce. There are countless reasons why a marriage can break down, but the strain of moving to a different country and navigating life in a foreign land can put extra pressure on a relationship, with many marriages coming to an end.

This has led to many divorces involving some form of international element, and some find they may be eligible to divorce in more than one country. Firstly, it is important to note that, whether you live in Scotland, England or overseas, law and legal systems can vary massively between countries, even within the UK.

Expatriates may choose to divorce in Glasgow for a number of reasons, be it the familiar nature of the Scottish laws and language, to more favourable financial settlement options, or the complexities that come with international divorce when a child or dependants are involved.


Where can I divorce?

Navigating the legal intricacies of divorce involves understanding the jurisdiction that applies to your case. Generally, the appropriate court to handle divorce matters is determined by either your current residence or your legal domicile (a legal term with complex rules that, in short, refers to your home country).

Expatriates often face a crucial decision: whether to address personal matters like divorce in their country of origin. Scottish courts hold the authority to oversee divorce proceedings if either spouse possesses legal domicile in Scotland or England.

This authority extends to situations where the couple both currently reside abroad, with a legal representative taking care of proceedings on your behalf in Glasgow.

In order to get a divorce in Glasgow, you (or your spouse) will have to meet a certain criteria, showing you have a sufficient connection to Scotland.

Connection to Scotland criteria:


  •     Both you and your spouse are habitually resident in Scotland
  •     Scotland was the last habitual residence of you and your spouse and one of you is still living there
  •     The respondent is habitually resident in Scotland
  •     The petitioner has lived in Scotland for the 12 months just before starting the divorce proceedings
  •     The petitioner has lived in Scotland for the 6 months just before starting the divorce proceedings and is domiciled there
  •     Both you and your spouse are domiciled in Scotland


Where is best for me to divorce?

Each expatriate divorce situation is complex, and unique to the parties involved. While divorce elsewhere may be an option that suits your needs, choosing to divorce in Scotland can be significantly simpler and more cost-effective.

Choosing a lawyer who understands the intricacies of your case and the complexities of both Scottish and international law is key, so you can be fully informed of the best options for you and your family.


Do I have to go to court?

Divorce can be a daunting journey, riddled with complexities and emotional upheaval. But there are steps you can take to seek a more amicable solution. Opting for an amicable divorce not only spares you from a prolonged legal battle and extensive costs, but also encourages an environment of open communication and shared decision-making.

This is particularly advantageous if there are children involved.

In our experience, litigation is a last resort when it comes to expatriate divorce. While an amicable divorce can be a challenging path to tread, it often results in a much more productive process and positive outcome for all parties involved.

When it comes to undergoing an amicable divorce in Scotland, there are a number of options you can explore, including:


  • Collaborative practice
  • Mediation
  • Lawyer negotiation
  • Arbitration


Custodial considerations

For expatriate couples, custodial arrangements can be particularly intricate. Amidst new surroundings and cultural differences, making decisions about children’s living arrangements requires a thoughtful and comprehensive approach.

When considering custody arrangements, remember that the best interests of your children should be at the forefront. Glasgow’s family law courts prioritise the well-being of the child, and judges tend to appreciate parents who demonstrate a willingness to collaborate for their children’s sake.

As expatriates, maintaining stability and providing a consistent environment for your children can be challenging. Strive for a custody arrangement that balances stability with the flexibility necessary for accommodating international travel or potential relocations. This can help mitigate stress for both you and your children during these transitions.

Mediation offers a controlled environment for addressing the needs of your children while encouraging cooperation between both parents.


Finding expert guidance

With over 25 years of professional experience and personal experience of the difficulties that divorce can present, Cath Karlin is an expert in family law. With a specialist knowledge of Scottish law, Cath is ranked in both Chambers and the Legal 500 and has worked with countless expats to navigate their international divorce.

With a fundamental belief that her role as a family lawyer is to help you build a positive future, Cath specialises in a holistic approach to divorce and separation, always recommending collaborative practice or mediation as the preferred means of dispute resolution wherever possible, to help minimise stress and uncertainty at a time of heightened emotional difficulties.

Get in touch today to find out more.