Aristocrat Charles Villiers and his divorce case! What is divorce tourism? Is it legal?

The Supreme Court of the UK has ruled that divorce tourism is legal. Therefore, aristocrat Charles Villiers who is related to the Duchess of Cornwall lost his case against his ex-wife Emma on it. What is divorce tourism? And what is the appeal case of Charles which he lost in the Supreme Court?

What is divorce tourism?

Divorce tourism is a new emerging and controversial trend in divorce cases. Initially, it was meant to be a week-long vacation which divorcing couples would take in order to salvage their marriage before they filed legal papers for the divorce. It was a last attempt of the separating couple in order to save their marriage.

Divorce tourism [Source: Wake Smith Solicitors]
But this has now changed into a new form in the United Kingdom. Divorce tourism now means the situation wherein one divorcing party can move its divorce from its residing county, either Scotland or Wales to England. This is done with the belief that courts in England will be more generous than those in the other parts of the UK. This would help the aggrieved party to get more cash settlement in the divorce.

Charles Villiers and his wife Emma-divorce case

The wealthy man Charles Villiers is an Old Etonian aristocrat from Scotland and related to Duchess of Cornwall. Charles wanted to divorce his wife Emma. In 2014, he put in the legal papers for the divorce at the Dumbarton Sheriff Court which is near to Milton House where the couple used to reside. But his wife Emma took the case to the English court in England to hear her case for maintenance settlement in the divorce. She said that she was a habitual resident of England and hence her case should be heard in England.

Charles and Emma [Source: Daily Mail UK]
But it is believed that this step of Emma was due to the fact that courts in England are more favorable to women. She was banking on this known fact to get more cash maintenance payment from her ex-husband. The judge in the High Court ruled that Charles should give her £5500-a-month as interim payments.

The appeal by Charles Villiers

But Charles was not happy with his judgment. He is a publisher and owns a racehorse. Last year, he appealed against this High Court ruling in the Supreme Court. He argued that the court in England cannot take up the case of his ex-wife Emma. He added that if they entertained her case, England would get the label of the “the maintenance capital of the United Kingdom”.

And the Supreme Court recently ruled that divorce tourism is legal. The voting was three votes to two votes. Lord Sales said:

“A judgment in the wife’s maintenance claim would not be irreconcilable with a divorce decree in Scotland.”

Charles [Source: Pinterest]
Lord Wilson was not in favor of divorce tourism and said:

“The decision will be the untrammelled licence given to a wife to go forum-shopping. In other words to put her husband at an initial disadvantage unrelated to the merits of her case.”

Other lawyers also feel that this case would set a bad example. It would encourage other Scots to start court proceedings in England, where maintenance awards are particularly more generous.

Also, read What is French-style divorce? Why is it the best for post-lockdown divorces?