“What if my partner is from abroad?”

People from every country in the world chose to live in England and Wales and as a result the number of international families is growing.

As the law that governs unmarried couples varies globally, you may wish to try to import the law of your home nation into England and Wales. This will frequently be possible using cohabitation agreements or living together agreement and trust documents.

International families have their own specific needs which will often include working or holding assets abroad, differing immigration statuses within the family, or multiple and complex tax regimes. Brexit will likely only increase this complexity.

Whether you have already moved, planning to move or in the process of moving there are a number of factors you will want to consider:


The law dealing with property ownership in England and Wales may differ from the country you are moving from. If you are planning to purchase property in England and Wales then you will need to consider how you intend to own the property.

Property held outside of England and Wales will need to be dealt with in the country in which it is located and you will need take specialist legal advice. Mills & Reeve belongs to a network of top international law firms and can coordinate and project manage this work on your behalf.

Financial Arrangements

It is important to agree how you are going to share the everyday costs of living. This is particularly significant for international couples where only one person has moved and the other person remains in the previous country, there is a staggered relocation, or a family have moved for only one person’s job. Ideally, you should discuss this and agree who will pay for what before you move. This can then be recorded in a cohabitation or living together agreement.


The legal status of international parents in this country may differ from the country the family is moving from. This may include the law relating to parental responsibility.

You are likely to want to take children out of the country for holidays or to visit family regularly. It is important that both parents are aware of the legal requirements for taking children out of the jurisdiction. If there is no court order in place and you take a child out of the country without the permission of all people with parental responsibility or a specific order from the court then this will be considered child abduction.

The financial provision for children upon the breakdown of a relationship will also be influenced by the location of the non-resident parent. If they move abroad or return home this may present difficulties. This is a complex area of law and specialist advice should be sought as early as possible.

Death and Ill Health

You may have made arrangements for your financial affairs in the country you are moving from but it is vital to ensure you make valid arrangements in England and Wales.

The law in England and Wales does not afford the same legal rights to couples living together as they do to married couples. You will therefore need to consider making a will and what should happen if you lose capacity. It is also important for international families to take specialist advice on their tax position.

Expert legal advice

For more information or an informal chat about your next steps, contact us on 0344 326 0450 or email us.

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