Internationally-focused London firm Mackrell Turner Garrett has won an important case in the Central Family Court regarding a contested divorce petition based on the husband’s domicile.

The petition was issued against a husband who then challenged the divorce being processed in England and Wales on the basis that he abandoned his domicile of origin in Wales and instead acquired a domicile of choice in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and therefore the Courts of England and Wales had no jurisdiction to entertain the divorce petition.

The Court however did not accept the husband’s position, finding that he had not dislodged his domicile of origin.

Although he owned properties in Dubai and had been living and working in the UAE for almost 20 years, there was no evidence that he had completely severed his ties with Wales.

Despite the fact that the husband had stayed in the UAE for a long time, he had never stayed in England or Wales longer than five weeks at a time and had sufficient resources under the current UAE rules, to meet the requirements for a residency visa after his retirement, the Court found that this was not sufficient to establish that he had formed an intention to ‘live out his days’ in the UAE.

Instead, the Court placed significant importance on the fact that the husband had decided to have his relatively recently drawn Will governed by English law. The Will required his worldwide assets to be distributed in accordance with that law and he had asked friends in Wales to be the executors of the Will.

The Court found that the husband had not cut his ties to England and Wales and noted that the husband had powerful financial motivation to challenge the petition, given his liability financially on divorce under English law.

Alison Green, Head of the Family Team at Mackrell Turner Garrett, said: “This case illustrates the difficulties of dislodging your domicile of origin. This is becoming an ever greater issue in the modern globalised world, where many people choose to live or spend extended periods in multiple jurisdictions.”