For decades, London has drawn in many divorcing spouses who wish to take full advantage of the city’s extremely favorable family courts. As it currently stands, the system provides numerous advantages to spouses seeking settlements from high-net-worth individuals, and these advantages have become well-known across the globe. From the wives of Arab sheiks to the spouses of Russian oligarchs, London has seen many divorce settlements over the years – and many multi-million-dollar settlements. Despite its popularity among certain spouses, London’s divorce courts are not always looked upon in the same manner by its own national government. Recent proposed changes may end the city’s “divorce tourism” reputation forever.
Why London is Such a Popular Divorce Destination
Why is London such a popular destination for so-called “divorce tourists?” As Forbes explained in 2013, its reputation was cemented years ago thanks to the overturning of something called the “cheats charter.” Thanks to this decision, millionaires can no longer use their businesses as shields against the property division process. In other words, spouses who file their divorces in London can seek their fair share of the marital fortune directly from businesses owned by their exes. In other jurisdictions, the separation of personal and business assets may prevent this.
Not only that, but London courts tend to provide more generous divorce settlements than other courts around the world. One only has to look at the long list of multi-million-dollar settlements offered throughout the years to see the truth of this statement. Not everyone is happy about this, obviously. Among the disgruntled critics are the spouses who are forced to take money out of their businesses in order to pay off their spouses. But the British government is also raising concerns, pointing out that this system threatens the independence of business entities. This independence is a cornerstone of Western economies, and one might argue that the business world could not function without it.
Proposed Changes Could End London’s Reputation
As the Financial Times reports, London’s reputation as a divorce haven could soon become a distant memory. In August of 2023, the UK government announced that its Law Commission would be conducting a full review of its property division process. In their review, the commission is expected to assess whether prenuptial and postnuptial agreements should be enforced with greater validity in the future. Judges presiding over these divorce trials may also be given less discretion and freedom to make overly generous awards to spouses.
The Financial Times also points out that Brexit has made the UK a less favorable divorce destination than in previous years. Since the UK is no longer part of the European Union, foreign individuals must demonstrate that their divorce has a genuine connection to the UK. Living in Europe is no longer enough to ensure that a divorce trial will be heard in a London court. For some spouses, this means that buying property in the UK may be necessary before they can move forward with a London divorce – and even then, it might not be possible after Brexit.