When the Ex is overseas and just not playing ball
Thank you for the free gift.
I have a question which I am hoping you are able to assist.
My soon to be ex husband lives overseas in the same country where most of our assets are. I filed for a divorce in this country and we both have UK solicitors. We have exchanged Form E – he sent me a few questions which I answered fully, but he refuses to satisfactorily answer the questions I sent him. (In his opinion the questions were irreverent).
Also a few months ago he proposed an interim maintenance payment which he remitted just one payment willingly, and has since ceased payments.
Let me add that he ceased communications with me for over a year now – does not respond to emails, texts or phone calls hence my having to hire a solicitor.
Is there anyway he can be forced to answer my questionnaire, continue making interim payments until we reach financial settlement as well have him to engage in financial settlement negotiations without having to go to court?
I would like to remain anonymous please.
Suggestions from Collaborative Lawyer and Mediator Kim Beatson
In these days of international relationships the issue of “forum shopping” is all too common.
This is why separating parties frequently take advice in this country and in the country where the other spouse lives or was born or where most of the assets are located.
There are two reasons for this: – an ex-spouse based overseas may have no incentive whatsoever to cooperate with proceedings in this country. He/she may realise that the sanctions will not apply in hi/her home country so that any order is literally unenforceable. Of course among the EC Member States that is unlikely to be the case. Secondly, the English Courts may not make orders against offshore assets if such orders are unenforceable in the overseas country.
In this case the overseas country is not identified but we strongly advise negotiating from a position of strength. Some overseas countries will honour “letters of request” received from the UK and compel Respondents to answer questions on oath regarding his financial position. Unfortunately this will involve seeking advice from a relevant overseas lawyer about the approach to division of assets in that country, enforceability of English Orders in that country and, perhaps, whether it would be better to abandon the proceedings in England and begin proceedings overseas.
All of these challenging issues would generally be tackled before filing for divorce.
KIM BEATSON, Collaborative Lawyer and Mediator, Anthony Gold Solicitors
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Suggestions from Collaborative Lawyer Paula Butterworth
I am sorry that you find yourself in this predicament.
The only way to force full and frank replies to questionnaire is by order of the court. If you start court proceedings, your husband will be under a duty to give full and frank financial disclosure and if he refused would find himself subject to an order to do so. The court would impose penalties for non compliance.
Similarly the only way to enforce payment of maintenance is by court order.
However, I cannot tell from your email if you have tried mediation. In mediation you would be able to explore directly with your husband why he takes objection to providing the answers you seek and it may be possible to speak to him directly about the questions and for him to provide the assurances you need from him as to whether the information is necessary.
Similarly you would have the opportunity to speak about the non payment of maintenance and the effect this has on you. In essence you would be appealing to him to correct his ways and could explain that if this goes to court, you will both have mounting legal bills to pay, which is no one’s interest. Mediation costs less because you pay the fee of one mediator and often can explore the heart of problems and seek ways to resolve them amicably.
You may have also heard of collaborative law. It involves both parties agreeing to resolve their separation without court proceedings and needs commitment on both sides to reach a mutually acceptable conclusion. Full and frank disclosure is still important to the process as without it, it is difficult for a solicitor to advise you whether any offer is a fair offer. You need to establish the total sum of matrimonial assets and establish as far as possible whether the other party is being honest. Collaborative procedure involves several four way meetings with both parties and their collaborative lawyers meeting together to discuss the issues and find a solution. If a lawyer were to ask your husband the information you seek face to face this could avoid the need for protracted chase of written replies. Cooperation would still be needed to voluntarily pay maintenance and I have concerns from your email that cooperation is lacking so this would be difficult although not impossible to resolve amicably.
I wish you all the best and hope that you can resolve matters by agreement.
Paula Butterworth, Collaborative Lawyer Rayden Solicitors