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  • Divorce Information for United States Air Force Personnel

    Can I get a divorce in the UK?

    The English courts have jurisdiction to grant a divorce if either spouse:

    So this means as long as you have been living in England or Wales for one year or more you can obtain a divorce in England or Wales. It doesn’t matter whether both parties are American or whether you were married in the United States or anywhere outside England and Wales. What is the Divorce Procedure?In England and Wales you have to be married for one year before you can divorce and at present it is not possible to obtain a divorce based on “irreconcilable differences”. Take a look at the Divorce and Dissolution link http://www.jmfamilylaw.co.uk/divorce-dissolution/ but in summary:There is one ‘ground’ for divorce – ‘irretrievable breakdown of the marriage’.There are then five ‘facts’ to choose from:

    1. Adultery
    2. Unreasonable behaviour
    3. Separation for 2 years and both parties consent to divorce
    4. Separation for 5 years (no need for consent of other party)
    5. Desertion (rarely used)

    On average a divorce in England and Wales takes approximately 4-5 months depending on how quickly both parties deal with paperwork and financial matters.

    Will my divorce deal with financial matters?
    No, you will need to file a financial agreement at court (Consent Order). Assets abroad can be taken into consideration in the same way as other assets but, as the courts in England and Wales do not have jurisdiction over property (land and buildings) to ensure your spouse does not have any future claim you should get advice on the law of the particular place (state or country) where any foreign property or assets are.You should continue to give your spouse money whilst you are separated as the Unites States Air Force requires all personnel to adequately support their dependents.  Also, please note that filing for a divorce in England and Wales may have consequences on the division of military retirement benefits. Additionally DFAS will not necessarily recognise a foreign order so it will be the responsibilities of the parties to file this order in the United States. You should visit your base legal office and/or MPF/MPS office for more information.

    What can I do if I am not eligible for a Divorce in England and Wales?
    Go and see your base legal office.Lakenheath, Bldg 1082. Comm: 01638 523553. DSN: 226-3553 Mildenhall, BLDG 428. Comm: 01638 542028. DSN: 238-2028.United States Air Force attorneys are not authorised to represent individuals but they can offer you advice on your rights and obligations. They can look over legal paperwork you may have and help you to understand what is going on. Additionally the legal office can notarise any documents.It is advised to hire a civilian attorney who will draw up paperwork to start the divorce, send it to the other party and file it with the relevant divorce court back in the US. The American Bar Association provides a Lawyer Referral Service. Likewise, your state of legal residence maintains a list of local bar associations.  In some states you can also download the divorce documents from the county court house to complete without an attorney.

    For State Specific Information on Divorce issues see: http://www.americanbar.org/groups/family_law/resources/family_law_in_the_50_states.html

    If you would like to hire a US attorney here in the UK you can find a list at: https://uk.usembassy.gov/u-s-citizen-services/local-resources-of-u-s-citizens/attorney/

    Julie McDonald Family Law are willing to participate in the Value Added Tax Relief Programme for US Air Force personnel and can invoice the Force Support Squadron directly so that you do not have to pay UK VAT (which is currently 20%).

    For more information speak to your local VAT Office.Lakenheath, Bldg 957. Comm: 01638523166. DSN: 226-3166Mildenhall, BLDG 450. Comm:  01638542976. DSN: 238-2976.

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