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Billy Xiong Suggests: Do you own property internationally? Were you married

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Do you own property internationally? Were you married internationally? How does that affect your property settlement?

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Not all property settlement divisions are as cut and dry as a
nuclear family with a single matrimonial home.

With the globe at our fingertips due to air travel, some
families have homes in multiple countries and own property in
different parts of the world.

A difficulty can arise for these families, where there are
competing laws in different countries about divorce and the
division of assets. When in doubt, seek legal advice to clarify
which laws apply to you.

A recent matter before the High Court of Australia (Clayton
v Bant
[2020]) considered the competing laws in Dubai (United
Arab Emirates) and Australia in relation to the division of

In that matter, the wife was from Australia and the husband from
Dubai. The couple owned properties in Dubai, Australia and other
countries around the world. The husband applied for a divorce in
Dubai and the wife applied in Australia.

While the parties were divorced formally in Dubai, that divorce
did not separate the properties owned by the husband and wife in

As the wife lives in Australia, her application to the court in
Australia also sought to divide the properties that the parties
owned in Australia.

Now, there’s this tricky rule which stops the court from
hearing a matter which has already been decided by a court (unless
there’s an appeal).

As the divorce had already been dealt with in another country,
the court had to determine whether all matters had already been
dealt with in Dubai, or whether the Australian courts could still
decide on the division of the Australian properties.

The High Court has granted special leave to hear the matter on
appeal and will decide whether the wife can bring those proceedings
in Australia.

Stay tuned for the outcome of the High Court judgment in the
coming months.


1 Clayton v Bant [2020] HCATrans 50 (17 April

The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.

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