Guides & Advice

Villiers vs Villiers: A case of ‘divorce tourism’

Published: 6th July 2020
Area: For the individual

Villiers vs Villiers: A case of ‘divorce tourism’

Why choosing your divorce location matters

On 1st July 2020, the Supreme Court ruled in favour of Mrs Villiers, a woman wishing to take advantage of ‘divorce tourism’. This relates to divorcing in a location that may give you a more favourable settlement.

Her husband, Mr Villiers, wanted the divorce to be dealt with in Scotland alone, where they had lived for most of their married lives. However, Mrs Villiers desired for the maintenance case to be heard in England, where she had been living for some time after the separation.

It is rare for divorce cases to reach the heights of the Supreme Court, but this one was unusual. So, what does the ruling mean for you?

What is ‘divorce tourism’?

Simply put, divorce tourism is where people apply to have parts of their divorce handled in different jurisdictions – i.e. a different geographical location – England vs Scotland, for example.

What are the benefits of using different jurisdictions?

English and Scottish law are not the same. Scottish courts deal with divorces in a much more formulaic way than their English counterparts. South of the border, the courts take a more discretionary approach and award settlements that they feel are appropriate depending on individual circumstances.

Jurisdiction is critical in any divorce and it’s important to explore all options available. If it’s possible to have proceedings heard in a country with a potentially more favourable legal system – England and Wales, for example – then this would obviously be a wise move for anyone looking to commence divorce proceedings. However, it’s important to be aware that it’s often necessary to meet a number of criteria around residency and citizenship to have this choice.

Is ‘divorce tourism’ a guaranteed win?

While this Supreme Court ruling is cause for celebration for Mrs Villiers, the victory comes with a significant safety warning. Having her maintenance appeal heard by the English, rather than Scottish courts, is still no guarantee that she will get what she wants.

In addition, there could be certain challenges to overcome if various aspects of the case are determined in different jurisdictions.

What does this case mean for the future of UK family law?

Ultimately, whilst this is an interesting legal point, a question mark remains around how many people this particular decision will affect. The costly level of litigation means it is unlikely to lead to a sudden uptick in people looking to make the most of ‘divorce tourism’.

Of course, divorce tourism isn’t only applicable to those filing for divorce in England and Wales versus Scotland, there are multiple and complex nuances across jurisdictional territories around the entire world. However, there are many reasons why London is long thought of as the ‘divorce capital of the world’.

The divorcing process can be exhausting and stressful enough for separating couples, without having a Supreme Court ruling to contend with. With such complexity about where divorce proceedings take place and the difference it can make, it is worth seeking counsel well before these first steps are taken.

Contact us

No matter where you are on your journey, we can help to support and guide you through. Contact us confidentially today by calling 0330 024 0333, or filling out our enquiry form and someone will get in touch with you shortly.

SHMA® ON DEMAND

Listen to our SHMA® ON DEMAND content covering a broad range of topics to help support you and your business.

Charities: Defending 1975 Act claims in a pandemic – do charities have “needs”?

18 May

Andrew Wilkinson, Partner | Alistair Spencer, Associate
Charities: Defending 1975 Act claims in a pandemic – do charities have “needs”?

Has the current Covid context led to charities being in greater need and altered […]

DIY Will Drafting and Digital Assets – what can go wrong?

25 Feb

Debra Burton, Legal Director
DIY Will Drafting and Digital Assets – what can go wrong?

Discussing the common problems encountered with badly drafted Wills including construction issues, the risk […]

Exploring Surrogacy – the essential legal advice you need when having a child using a surrogate

11 Feb

Katherine Marshall, Partner | Matt Parr, Legal Director | David Browne, Partner & Head of Employment
Exploring Surrogacy – the essential legal advice you need when having a child using a surrogate

In the first of our series of family webinars Katherine Marshall will be talking […]

Brexit: Relocating to / from the UK? – the impact on your UK tax position

26 Nov

, | Verity Kirby, Legal Director
Brexit: Relocating to / from the UK? – the impact on your UK tax position

This webinar explores: tax planning opportunities prior to relocation, the associated impact on wills, […]

Wills, protecting your wealth and family matters

29 Jun

, | Andrew Wilkinson, Partner | , | Virginia Harvey, Partner
Wills, protecting your wealth and family matters

In this webinar, our team of experts answer some of the common issues we […]

COVID-19 | Child arrangements for separated parents during coronavirus

24 Apr

Helen Bowns, Partner
COVID-19 | Child arrangements for separated parents during coronavirus

In this webinar, we will look at how separated parents can deal with child […]

Our latest thoughts & insights

All the latest views and insights to help you navigate your personal matters.

Government Announces Adult Social Care Reforms

20 Sep

Family

Government Announces Adult Social Care Reforms

The Government announced last week that, from October 2023, there will be changes made […]

Read article Right Arrow

No fault divorce and Asian marriages

17 Sep

Divorce

No fault divorce and Asian marriages

While the institution of marriage remains significant for many, it is particularly sacred within […]

Read article Right Arrow

To vaccinate or not to vaccinate – that is the question…

14 Sep

Family

To vaccinate or not to vaccinate – that is the question…

Read article Right Arrow

LPA reform proposals: a snapshot

10 Sep

Private Client

LPA reform proposals: a snapshot

Read article Right Arrow

Our latest edition of Life Times magazine

9 Jul

For the individual

Our latest edition of Life Times magazine

Read article Right Arrow

Legacy loop: summer edition 2021

29 Jun

For the individual

Legacy loop: summer edition 2021

Read article Right Arrow

Separating from old law – No-fault divorce to be introduced

21 Jun

Family

Separating from old law – No-fault divorce to be introduced

Read article Right Arrow

How can we help?

Our expert lawyers are ready to help you with a wide range of legal services, use the search below or call us on: 0330 024 0333