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My former spouse has left the country: can I still claim maintenance?

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Financial orders of the court are made to set out how a former couple’s money and assets should be divided on divorce.

While capital assets such as the family home and pensions may be dealt with at the time of divorce, other regular payments may need to be made to cover living costs – usually on a monthly basis – especially in cases where children are involved. There are two types of payment – spousal and child maintenance.

While collecting these payments is usually a straightforward process, complications may arise if your former spouse moves to another country.

In a landmark ruling, the former wife of an anaesthetist has been awarded 100 per cent of the capital assets of her marriage. Mrs Aly alleged that her former husband had failed to provide for his children since the breakdown of the marriage in 2011.

The couple had two children together and the parties separated after nine years of marriage. Following their separation Mr Aly moved to Bahrain.

Mrs Aly sought to persuade the court that her former husband had no intention of voluntarily providing the financial support due to her and their children. If Mr Aly had been living and working in the UK, he could have been required to pay significant child and spousal maintenance to his former wife.

When the court initially ordered that Mrs Aly should receive £550,000 – 100 per cent of the assets of the marriage – Mr Aly appealed this decision, yet the Court of Appeal decided to uphold the decision.

The law surrounding these situations is complex, as while UK court orders concerning maintenance payments are enforceable in some countries, they are not in others.

If you are separating and your former spouse is planning on moving abroad then it is important that you seek specialist family law advice at an early stage.

To discuss any aspect of family law please contact Janine Hutson on 01772 258321.


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