According to legal experts a divorce in London might cost a husband half his wealth, whilst in Paris it would be less than 10%.
Under EU laws couples seeking a divorce can choose to do so in the country of their nationality or of their main home.
Of over 2 million marriages registered in the EU in 2003, 350,000 involved couples living abroad or of different nationality. In the same year there were 170,000 couples fulfilling either of these criteria out of a total of 875,000 divorces, nearly 20% of all the total.
With the increase in the number of international partners and those living abroad, lawyers are beginning to find that couples are shopping around for the best place to divorce.
Not only might it be a question of the potential value of the settlement, but also the length and complexity of the procedure, and whether or not mutual consent is required.
In the case of a French-German couple, the advice to the woman is often to divorce in Germany because of the level of protection for children; in the case of a French-Swedish couple the general advice to the women is to divorce in France as alimony payments are less common in Sweden.
The priority for divorcing couples is to be quick off the mark to lodge the divorce papers, because this then becomes the court and country where the case will be heard.
Whilst European law enshrines the right for couples to choose where to divorce based on nationality and residence, where couples disagree there are no guidelines to assist in the determination of where the case should be heard.