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English Courts Have Jurisdiction Over Maintenance Claims in Scottish Divorce

April 14, 2016   /  Uncategorized   /   no comments

A ruling on maintenance order in a divorce case filed in two different courts – England and Scotland, showed that English courts can rule on how maintenance shall be paid by the husband living in Scotland.

The couple in question lived in Scotland a year after they were married in England in 1994. In 2012, the couple separated with the wife going back to England with their daughter, and launched divorce proceedings. She claimed habitual residence, as she had lived for 12 months in England and Wales’ jurisdiction.

The husband contested the English Court’s jurisdiction, saying that his wife lived in Scotland for the entirety of their marriage and is therefore habitually resident in the northernmost country of the UK. He went on to file a writ for divorce with the Dumbarton Sheriff Court.

The wife, and her legal team, argued that the writ is invalid, since a year had passed and is no longer recognised under the law of Scotland. For the duration of the case, both sides made allegations and claims.

On the basis that competing jurisdictions are within the UK, the wife later agreed to drop the divorce petition she filed in England, and filed a claim for maintenance under section 27 of the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973 instead. This refers to ‘Financial provision orders, etc., in case of neglect by party to marriage to maintain other party or child of the family’.

When the wife filed her petition before the High Court, the question of jurisdiction once again came up. This time, the answer was clear and specific.

Regulation states that claims made in different jurisdictions are decided based on which court the case was first filed, or the court to be ‘seised’. In this situation, English courts have jurisdiction over the maintenance claim that the wife filed, and any other jurisdiction must then ‘stay’ or withdraw.

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