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Old 18.07.2019, 20:05
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British nationals - swiss divorce

Hello everyone,

I have read so many posts where you wonderful people gave fantastic advice and support, I thought I would post my question and see if anyone could help.

We married in a British Law jurisdiction and moved to Zurich for his job 2 years later. Almost upon landing we started a family. 2 years ago we made the joint decision to go back home with our 3 children, who were between the ages of 9 - 13, to put them into British schools. We sold our large, expensive house and I took the children home, while he stayed behind just until a suitable job came up at home. You guessed it - he never came! 2 years to the day that we left he informed me that he has started proceedings in the Swiss courts!

My question is - is him being resident in CH enough to ensure that we are judged under Swiss law? Our Marriage was British and I am living in Britain with our beautiful Children.

I didn't work in CH and I have been looking for work since returning, but a 15 year career break is an enormous hurdle. How likely am I to receive support from the courts?

I hope someone knows these answers.
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Old 18.07.2019, 20:25
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Re: British nationals - swiss divorce

How have you been supported up till now?

It's not cast in stone, but divorce Courts in the four countries in which I've known the stories, including Switzerland and the UK, seemed to follow the arrangements that were in place during the separation.

However, in Swiss law it is considered reasonable that after the divorce each adult is responsible for his/her own upkeep. Even so, see the exceptions: https://www.englishforum.ch/3084175-post104.html
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Old 18.07.2019, 21:15
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Re: British nationals - swiss divorce

Thank you for your reply Doropfiz
He sent me a monthly allowance and paid rent and school fees and visited twice a year - I feel such a fool for not seeing it coming!

Other threads talk about spousal maintenance being possible if you’re over 50 when the youngest turns 16. Do you know anything about that? I am very worried about being left with nothing! The house proceeds are in his account- I think!
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Old 18.07.2019, 21:50
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Re: British nationals - swiss divorce

How can you not know whether or not the house proceeds are in his account? Were you not paying tax together when you were in Switzerland together and when you sold the house?

This thread seems to resemble the other recent one (apart from the parts about tax in the USA) quite a lot. https://www.englishforum.ch/family-m...ml#post3084175
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Old 18.07.2019, 21:53
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Re: British nationals - swiss divorce

Are you legally separated for at least two years?

If not, then he cannot start divorce proceedings.

Tom
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Old 18.07.2019, 22:03
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Re: British nationals - swiss divorce

Was the monthly allowance specified as per person, i.e. how much for you and how much for each child? The Swiss Courts typically do this.

On one hand this is about the allowance for the adult (you). It is considered reasonable that the spouse who has not been working up till now will get on with taking steps towards finding employment. Therefore, the allowance might be specified, in the divorce agreement, as temporary, for a few years, while you hone your skills to become employable.

The allowance must be specified per child because, as each child reaches the end of their education, their personal allowance from the divorced parent falls away.

And also because, as each child turns 18, if he/she is still in their first education (and thereby still entitled to the allowance), they can then require that the divorced parent, in your case their father, no longer send the allowance to you to spend on their behalf, but directly to the 18-year-old.
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Old 19.07.2019, 04:57
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Re: British nationals - swiss divorce

I think the 'visited twice a year' might have been a red flag :-)

I've known a couple of families who've done same, wife and kids back to the UK, husband has stayed here working and paid for the house etc in the UK.. But they've gone back each or each second weekend and otherwise continued normal family life - at a distance.
Sounds like this guy has taken these past two years as the legal separation and is now moving to the next stage.
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Old 19.07.2019, 08:20
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Re: British nationals - swiss divorce

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Sounds like this guy has taken these past two years as the legal separation and is now moving to the next stage.
That's a physical separation, not a legal separation, hardly the same thing, nor does it count as one.

Tom
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Old 19.07.2019, 09:41
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Hello Tom,

Please could you clarify what you mean. I assumed that 2 physically separate households would count as 2 years separation. Is there a legal definition that I am not aware of?

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How can you not know whether or not the house proceeds are in his account? Were you not paying tax together when you were in Switzerland together and when you sold the house?

This thread seems to resemble the other recent one (apart from the parts about tax in the USA) quite a lot. https://www.englishforum.ch/family-m...ml#post3084175
The house sale was completed after I had left CH. He closed our joint accounts and transferred all balances to sole Swiss accounts - without my knowledge!

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I think the 'visited twice a year' might have been a red flag :-)

I've known a couple of families who've done same, wife and kids back to the UK, husband has stayed here working and paid for the house etc in the UK.. But they've gone back each or each second weekend and otherwise continued normal family life - at a distance.
Sounds like this guy has taken these past two years as the legal separation and is now moving to the next stage.
Yes, obviously. I spoke often with him about it ( not nagging!) and about how much we all missed him. He claimed pressures of work! I asked him to stay in touch with the children, texts etc. He has 0 interest in them! Doesn’t know anything about them, how they’ve settled in, what they’re excelling at, what they enjoy, who their friends are - nothing!

He has also obviously chosen the jurisdiction which is best for him! Hence my question. Can I force English law as we’re both British, married under British Law, children now living in British jurisdiction.

Last edited by 3Wishes; 19.07.2019 at 22:34. Reason: merging consecutive replies
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Old 19.07.2019, 10:16
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Re: British nationals - swiss divorce

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Hello Tom,

Please could you clarify what you mean. I assumed that 2 physically separate households would count as 2 years separation. Is there a legal definition that I am not aware of?
These might help to clarify things a bit

http://www.binational.ch/en/?Separation_and_divorce

https://iclg.com/practice-areas/fami...ns/switzerland

https://www.expatica.com/ch/living/l...erland-106669/


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He has also obviously chosen the jurisdiction which is best for him! Hence my question. Can I force English law as we’re both British, married under British Law, children now living in British jurisdiction.
He fulfils the residential criteria for applying for a divorce in Switzerland so be is perfectly entitled to do so.

In you shoes I would be seeking legal council in the U.K. to find out what your options are. You may be able to file for divorce yourself from your end in the UK but I have no experience in the area so you need to find out from those who are experts in the field.
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Old 19.07.2019, 11:21
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Re: British nationals - swiss divorce

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Hello Tom,

Please could you clarify what you mean. I assumed that 2 physically separate households would count as 2 years separation. Is there a legal definition that I am not aware of?
Legal separation requires a court decision, not just physically separating.

Tom
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Old 19.07.2019, 12:00
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Re: British nationals - swiss divorce

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You may be able to file for divorce yourself from your end in the UK.
It would be unlikely that this would succeed.

When starting the procedure in England she will be asked to state if proceedings are taking place elsewhere, if she says yes she needs a very good reason to have the divorce in England. Think of a whole family living in England and also the assets of the couple all being in England, this makes it in good interest to also have the divorce in England, in this situation however the guy lives in Switzerland, has his assets in Switzerland so there is no reason why he should not be able to file for a divorce in Switzerland. Thus according to the rules the English court must decline a request from OP due to the already ongoing procedure in Switzerland.

Besides that, if he wants to screw her he could simply block an English divorce since those demand 5 yrs of separation if the other party does not cooperate or cannot be found, and after that he could lower the payments leaving her to find an option to get more money from him while still being married.

I think we should just forget about the whole idea of moving the divorce from Switzerland to England, unless he cooperates this is simply not going to happen. She can only block the Swiss divorce by pulling it out of the country which she only can do if she is allowed to start proceedings elsewhere, however there are no grounds which allow her to start a proceeding in England without him agreeing due to the 5yr rule.

Last edited by EdwinNL; 19.07.2019 at 12:16.
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Old 19.07.2019, 12:11
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Re: British nationals - swiss divorce

I wonder if he works at the same place the other divorce thread guy works?
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Old 19.07.2019, 12:13
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Re: British nationals - swiss divorce

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Legal separation requires a court decision, not just physically separating.
No. Separation does not need a court decision, a court decision is optional. But separation can be mandated by a court decision upon request of one of the partners.
https://www.beobachter.ch/familie/tr...chtlich-regeln
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Old 19.07.2019, 12:53
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Re: British nationals - swiss divorce

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The house sale was completed after I had left CH. He closed our joint accounts and transferred all balances to sole Swiss accounts - without my knowledge!
Thats the beauty of a joint account where one person can sign alone.
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Old 19.07.2019, 13:09
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Re: British nationals - swiss divorce

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Thats the beauty of a joint account where one person can sign alone.
Yep.

It is sometimes hard to treat financials in a way where a split-up is to be taken as a existing option since we all want to believe in the pink cloud we can be on, however it so often turns out to have been a necessity. And I never heard couples regret they did it in such way, only the people who did not do such. My sister learned the hard way, her OH was allowed to raise the credit on his own on their shared accounts and decided it be a good idea to make 80K of high interest debts in support of his friends in the last year before he committed suicide

Anyway, for this topic it is hindsight.
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Old 19.07.2019, 13:22
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Re: British nationals - swiss divorce

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He has also obviously chosen the jurisdiction which is best for him! Hence my question. Can I force English law as we’re both British, married under British Law, children now living in British jurisdiction.
Which law applies and at which court the proceeding take place are two different questions.

AFAIK for allowance etc. British law will apply, but it can still be handled and decided by a Swiss court. (Hague Convention No. 24: Convention of 2 October 1973 on the Law Applicable to Maintenance Obligations)

More links to Swiss laws and international treaties, on the topic:
https://www.bj.admin.ch/bj/en/home/g.../alimente.html
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Old 19.07.2019, 20:29
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Re: British nationals - swiss divorce

Anything to do with custody will be UK as the kids are in the UK.

If you want something from him and he's in Switzerland then you will want a swiss paper.

If you just want a divorce, nothing from him, try a UK route.

Swiss = years and years and years though, just to warn you.

Also having an order for spousal support doesn't = getting money.
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Old 20.07.2019, 00:14
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Re: British nationals - swiss divorce

The most usual procedure in Switzerland is for the divorcing couple to settle their financial arrangements themselves - perhaps with the help of a lawyer on each side - aiming to reach an agreement about who will pay how much to whom for what and for how long. This settlement contract is then submitted to the Court during the divorce.

Contrary to what some may think, the Court's role is not to dereive the settlement agreement. Rather, the Court merely scrutinises what the parties themselves have submitted, to see whether it fulfils all the Swiss legal requirements, and then next to see whether it is reasonable given the circumstances, especially those of the children, and the Court also shoud check to see whether both parties have fully understood the meaning of this contract. The Court may make adjustments. Then, this new agreement becomes the financial content of the divorce.

There is also, of course, the matter of access for the children to both parents. This is a right of each child. Ditto the couple presenting an agreement to the Court, as they apply for divorce.

The more quickly the two parties can agree on the divison of their money, and on the allowances each will pay to the other and for the children, and on the arrangements about the contact between child and both parents, the more smoothly divorce procedings will be completed.

The more disagreements there are, the more protracted the case will be, as versions of the agreement are made and rejected by the other party, or by the Court, and as each party makes claims and counter-claims, or as one or both parties does/do not fulfil the Swiss formal requirements, etc.
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Old 20.07.2019, 00:23
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Re: British nationals - swiss divorce

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The most usual procedure in Switzerland is for the divorcing couple to settle their financial arrangements themselves - perhaps with the help of a lawyer on each side - aiming to reach an agreement about who will pay how much to whom for what and for how long. This settlement contract is then submitted to the Court during the divorce.

Contrary to what some may think, the Court's role is not to dereive the settlement agreement. Rather, the Court merely scrutinises what the parties themselves have submitted, to see whether it fulfils all the Swiss legal requirements, and then next to see whether it is reasonable given the circumstances, especially those of the children, and the Court also shoud check to see whether both parties have fully understood the meaning of this contract. The Court may make adjustments. Then, this new agreement becomes the financial content of the divorce.

There is also, of course, the matter of access for the children to both parents. This is a right of each child. Ditto the couple presenting an agreement to the Court, as they apply for divorce.

The more quickly the two parties can agree on the divison of their money, and on the allowances each will pay to the other and for the children, and on the arrangements about the contact between child and both parents, the more smoothly divorce procedings will be completed.

The more disagreements there are, the more protracted the case will be, as versions of the agreement are made and rejected by the other party, or by the Court, and as each party makes claims and counter-claims, or as one or both parties does/do not fulfil the Swiss formal requirements, etc.
What would make the above complicated is the Swiss court has zero authority over the kids. Anything there would be via UK courts.
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