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Ask Clare Your Own Question
Clare
Clare, Family Solicitor
Category: Family Law
Satisfied Customers: 34503
Experience:  I have been a solicitor in High Street Practise since 1985 and have specialised in Family Law for the last 10 years
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I am a British woman aged 60 and I married my husband in 1991

Customer Question

I am a British woman aged 60 and I married my husband in 1991 in the Yemen. He is originally Egyptian and now Canadian. We lived in Canada together until 1999 when we moved together to Bermuda, but he then moved to the Bahamas where he still is (since 2003) and I have been living in England since 2004. I run a business jointly with my daughter, from which I earn the minimum tax free income annually. It is entirely in her name. My husband works on a non-tax-paying basis in the Bahamas and is paid approximately $125,000 per year plus all his living expenses, car etc. Although we have been living apart all this time he has continued to send me an allowance monthly of $2000. He has property in Egypt which is worth about $700,000. I have a house in my name in France but no property in the UK. I would like to know whether the divorce courts would consider us to have been separated since we have lived apart for all these years (with only brief holidays together) for the purposes of divorce. I would also like to know if I would have any chance of obtaining any kind of settlement from him. I wish to divorce now due to the breakdown of the marriage. Thanks.
Submitted: 4 years ago.
Category: Family Law
Expert:  Clare replied 4 years ago.
Hi
Thank you for your question.
My name is Clare and I will do my best to help you but I need some further information first.
What other assets are there anywhere in the world?
Clare
Customer: replied 4 years ago.
There are no other assets. As I said, my husband has these houses in Egypt that are worth something in the region of $700,000 and I have my house in France which is worth about 200,000 euros. We have no property in England or anywhere else. He has about $70,000 in the bank, I have about 16,000 euros. There is a mortgage of 20,000 euros outstanding on my house, which is in his name, not mine. Hope this helps.
Expert:  Clare replied 4 years ago.
Hi
have you looked at a Divorce in France at all?
Clare
Customer: replied 4 years ago.
It is not an option whatsoever. I am not resident in France and none of my husbands income has ever been declared there as he has never been resident there either. Our marriage was in the Catholic Church in Aden, Yemen. I believe it is valid in the UK, and that because I live in the UK (in rented accommodation) I am entitled to divorce here?
Expert:  Clare replied 4 years ago.
Hi
Yes you are - but the fact that all the assets are elsewhere gives me cause for concern since enforcing any court order will not be easy
When did you both agree that the marriage was over?
Clare
Customer: replied 4 years ago.
I see what you mean about the assets. My husband hasn't necessarily agreed that the marriage is over. I have told him that I cannot continue to live apart like this and he can't come back to the UK because of his job, so we are at odds over this.
Expert:  Clare replied 4 years ago.
Hi
In that case you cannot claim the previous years of separation as being the lead up to a divorce since clearly during this period your marriage has in fact been ongoing at least in the eyes of your husband.
You could issue a Petition here in the Uk based on his Unreasonable Behaviour - and yes you can get an order for division of the properties - and possibly for ongoing spouse maintenance
Enforcing the Order in France will be relatively simple. Enforcing spouse maintenance in Bermuda should also be possible - but enforcement in Egypt woudl be significantly more complex
However if you would settle for the French property and maintenance yes a UK divorce could be practical
Please ask if you need further details
Clare
Customer: replied 4 years ago.
I understand what you say about the separation issue and that I would need to petition for a divorce based on unreasonable behaviour (his continued absence?) As far as the house in France goes, it is in my name, so would he have a claim on it at all if we were to divorce? If I were to give up any claim on the property in Egypt, would I have a chance of keeping the house and getting some maintenance order?
Expert:  Clare replied 4 years ago.
Hi
Sorry I thought the mortgage on the property in France was in his name?
Clare
Customer: replied 4 years ago.
No, it is in mine. It is the Egyptian property that is in his name only.
Expert:  Clare replied 4 years ago.
Hi
This is the part that confused me
There is a mortgage of 20,000 euros outstanding on my house, which is in his name, not mine
Clare
Customer: replied 4 years ago.
Sorry, I meant that the mortgage is in his name. The house is in mine. Sorry.
Expert:  Clare replied 4 years ago.
Hi
Still confused but I dare say French property law is different!
I do not think that there is any doubt that you will keep the house - and that he would be ordered to pay the mortgage off.
In law you have a claim on the properties in Egypt - it is just hard to see how any order will be enforced.
Spouse Maintenance is also almost guaranteed (although please remember this is based purely on the limited information given)
Clare