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4 November 2013

Hundreds of Italian couples accused of fraudulently getting 'quickie divorces' in UK

Britain’s top family judge has been asked to cancel 180 divorces after being told the UK courts have been exploited in a massive “fraud” by Italians seeking a quick end to their marriages, reports The Telegraph.

The couples from the devoutly Catholic country have assumed fake British residency in order to use the UK justice system to split up, avoiding the lengthy and costly Italian divorce process.

Court officials spotted the scam after realising that in 179 of the cases, one of the divorcing parties had given the same home address in the High Street, Maidenhead, Berks, which was not a residential property but the home of a post box.

Sitting in the High Court on Wednesday, Sir James Munby, president of the Family Division, was asked to overturn the decrees nisi and decrees absolute which have been granted in all 180 cases.

Italian couples face a mandatory three-year legal separation period, but can circumvent this using European Union legislation that recognizes divorces granted in any member state.
After obtaining foreign residency, they can in most cases file for divorce after six months, with Romania, in particular, reportedly becoming a destination of choice for Italian divorce tourists.
But it is illegal to use a bogus residency for these purposes.

Simon Murray, for the Queen's Proctor - the lawyer who represents the Crown if intervention is needed in divorce cases - told Sir James that the UK had been targeted, saying:

“It seems that this was, as expected, a fraud.

Italian couples were charged some 4,000 euros in each case for a fast-track divorce, with a Post Office box in Maidenhead being used to establish residency. The decrees should be rescinded.

It is a requirement of the Law of England and Wales that a person seeking a divorce in the English and Welsh Courts has been habitually resident in England for a period of at least one year immediately before issuing a petition of divorce, or that the respondent was habitually resident within the jurisdiction.

The English and Welsh Courts have no jurisdiction to consider divorce applications by parties who are both resident abroad.”

Read more on this story here.