Across the Seas – Overseas Divorce Settlements

Q – My husband and I were married in Pakistan, but have lived in Wales since our marriage (of more than 20 years). We were divorced several years ago, in Wales, and agreed the financial arrangements and obtained an order with the help of solicitors. Everything was amicable. I have now received court papers, from Pakistan, as my husband has applied to the court for a financial remedy in that country? What can I do about this?

A – Orders made by the family court in England and Wales are not binding on, and may not be recognised by, courts in other countries save where the two countries have entered into a convention, or agreement, to recognise certain types of orders/judgments. Where there is no agreement between the two countries, the recognition of the order in the foreign country will be dependent upon the laws and regulations that country.

By way of example, whilst England and Wales have a close political relationship to the United States of America, there is no uniform law for recognition and enforcement of judgements made by courts in England and Wales. Thus, whether an order will be recognised/enforced will be determined by the laws, and principles, of the individual states within USA.

Fortunately, Pakistan, as a former Commonwealth country, has an agreement with England and Wales (the Foreign Judgments (Reciprocal Enforcement) Act 1933). Consequently, the courts ‘should’ recognise/enforce an order made in England and Wales. However, the process is not automatic, and the judgment must go through a formal procedure for ‘certification’ and then an application issued in Pakistan for enforcement.

This remains, however, a complex legal issue and it is important that, in addition to obtaining advice in this country, you should also obtain independent legal advice from a suitably qualified lawyer in Pakistan. The lawyer should be able to explain the court procedure, and provide you with representation and guidance in navigating legal proceedings in that country.

If you would like any advice about this issue, or family matters generally, please feel free to call our family team on 02920 345511, or contact us by email on