When do you need advice about International Family Law?

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Posted on.
By Watkins Tapsell.


we live in a global community, with travel and communication being easily accessible it is common for people to work and travel overseas and to find partners outside of Australia, which can result in people having ties to more than one country.

For example, the case of Radmacher v Granantino involved a French citizen and a German citizen who celebrated their marriage in both London and Switzerland and the couple subsequently cohabited in London and New York.

Whilst, at first glance this case may seem extreme, the reality is that more and more Australian Citizens are finding themselves in similar situations. So what does this mean from a family law perspective? Some examples of when you may need advice from a Family Lawyer in relation to International Family Law issues are:

International Pre-Nuptial Agreements (“Pre-Nups”)

“Pre-Nups” is the colloquial term given to Binding Financial Agreements (“BFAs”).  BFAs can be entered at any time before or after commencing a de facto relationship or marriage. BFAs can spell out what will happen to your property if you separate and how you will manage your relationship and finances while you are together.

If you and your partner have assets and property in more than one country, it is possible to work with lawyers from that country to create an Agreement that is binding in both Australia and overseas.

Relocating Children/Moving with Children

A common difficulty upon the breakdown of an international relationship, is deciding in which country the children will live. This can mean having to make an application to the Court for permission to relocate overseas with the children, or if one parent has removed the children from Australia without the other parent’s consent, then it may be necessary to bring an application under the international treaty which deals with the removal of children across international boundaries, for return of the children (“the Hague Convention”).

International Property Matters

If parties separate and hold assets in both Australia and overseas, it is necessary to identify and value the overseas assets and determine how they should be dealt with. In some cases it may be more beneficial to one party to bring Court proceedings overseas. In that situation it is vital that the matter is assessed quickly to ensure that proceedings are commenced in the appropriate jurisdiction and within any applicable time limit.

In some cases parties have already obtained overseas Court Orders which need to be enforced and implemented in Australia. This will not be possible in all instances and it is important to consider the enforceability of overseas Orders within Australia, before obtaining them. In other cases it may be necessary to commence separate Court proceedings in Australia.

There may be assets of sufficient value in Australia to enable an Australian Court to make an appropriate division of those assets, taking into account the value of the overseas assets.

International Family Law is often complex and it is important to obtain legal advice at the earliest opportunity. If you would like further information about the international family law, please contact the Family Law Team at Watkins Tapsell.

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