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Navigating International Divorce: A Guide for Expatriates in Glasgow

Navigating a divorce is undoubtedly a challenging and emotionally taxing experience for everyone involved, but when it comes to expatriates in a foreign country, the complexities can seemingly become overwhelming.

If you are an expatriate facing the prospect of divorce, it is important to know you aren’t alone.

Understanding your options and legal rights is crucial before you embark on the process of an international divorce, and choosing an expert lawyer who specialises in expat divorce cases is key to help you navigate international divorce.

In this guide, we will offer informative insights into the divorce process in Scotland, looking at the benefits of mediation and amicable divorce wherever possible.


Scottish Law and Divorce for Expatriates

In recent years, the number of international divorce cases has risen significantly. As more people travel from the UK, Europe and further afield for both work and personal reasons, the complexities of marriage breakdowns often increase. Often, international divorce cases can be more complex than those taking place within one country.

Divorce laws can vary across the UK. Unlike England, Scotland follows its own distinct regulations for divorce proceedings and it is essential you’re provided with accurate information about the processes that will specifically apply to your situation.

Expats often don’t realise that they are able to divorce in Scotland, even if they continue to live aboard. Divorcing in Scotland can help to avoid layers of bureaucracy, cultural and religious differences as well as language barriers.


You can divorce in Scotland if:

  • Either you or your spouse is domiciled in Scotland.
  • Either of you or your spouse has been habitually resident in Scotland for a period of one year.


In the vast majority of international divorce cases, the Scottish courts will not require either spouse to travel back home to begin the divorce proceedings – these can be carried out on your behalf.


Benefits of Mediation: A Path to Amicable Resolution

Amid the turmoil of divorce, finding a way to resolve disputes amicably can save you from not only emotional stress but also financial strain. Mediation is a constructive alternative to the courtroom battle, offering couples the opportunity to engage in open dialogue and negotiate settlements with the guidance of a neutral third party.

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


Some families prefer to take a DIY approach to their divorce proceedings. While this can be significantly more challenging in cases of expat divorce, it isn’t impossible. Choosing a lawyer who can help and assist with support and guidance in the background can be extremely beneficial.


Custodial Arrangements: Prioritising the Well-being of Children

For expat couples with children, navigating custody arrangements can be one of the most emotionally charged aspects of divorce. In Glasgow, as in the rest of Scotland, the court’s primary concern is the welfare of the child.

While the idea of a courtroom battle might be daunting, mediation offers a more child-centred approach, where parents collaborate to devise arrangements that work best for their children’s needs. This can lead to more flexible and tailored solutions compared to traditional court-imposed orders.

In some extreme cases, you may need to consider the possibility that one party may wish to remove a child from the country without permission before a parenting plan is agreed. In these circumstances, it is vital you choose a lawyer who not only understands your rights, but is able to assist you with the sure return of your child.


International divorce costs

Every case of expatriate divorce is different, but it doesn’t need to cost the earth. One of the advantages of choosing to divorce in Scotland is the potential lower costs that can be significant depending on your home country.

The most cost-effective way to resolve your divorce is out of court, and often achieved through less contentious methods such as mediation and collaborative practice.

Each case differs as it depends on the complexity of your situation and how quickly matters are resolved. Often, charges are time-based on an hourly rate, but other options may be available to you.

Initial meeting costs are sometimes fixed – for example, we offer an initial meeting fixed fee package for £295.00 + VAT at 20% + £10 client identification fee for up to 75 minutes.

Beyond legal fees, expatriates should consider the division of assets, especially in cases involving international properties and investments. Child custody arrangements may also impact costs, particularly concerning child support and related expenses.


Why you should choose Cath Karlin Family Law

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.

Cath has particular expertise in advising clients working in the oil and gas industry, who often reside in areas where they do not wish to apply for international divorce. Cath also has a sound understanding of North American and European legal systems having spent over 10 years sitting on the board of international organisations.

Get in touch today to find out more and to take the first step towards navigating your international divorce in Glasgow.