International divorces: Complicated, but not impossible

When a legal issue arises in your family, the best way you can protect yourself and the ones you love is by consulting a family law attorney who understands how to help you.

One of the most complicated types of divorce is an international divorce. It's hard, because unless both people are in the same county, the time it takes to return documents and get in touch with the court can be much longer than it would be if both people were local.

It's also hard because of time differences. Depending on the time difference between countries, it could require a person to stay up until the middle of the night or require them to call the court at unusual hours. Attorneys would also potentially have to be willing to call the international court when it is open.

What should you consider when divorcing from a foreign spouse?

One of the first things to think about is where you want to divorce. Normally, the United States has a much fairer and less complex divorce system, but there may also be benefits to divorcing in the other country. Your attorney should be willing to help you regardless of the location.

You will want to work with an attorney focused on international divorce laws, because they will have to work with the foreign court if you choose to file through the other country's court system. If you file through the United States Courts, your attorney will still need to make sure that the correct documents are sent to the foreign court and to your foreign spouse within the timelines of that country.

Do the states recognize divorces if they go through a foreign court?

Most will, so long as you can prove that there was notice, documentation and a final court order. If you have orders to enforce, on the other hand, that may be more difficult. Your attorney would likely have to reach out to the foreign court to seek enforcement, and there is even a possibility that you could have to travel abroad to appear in court.

If you plan to go through a foreign divorce, think carefully about how you want to proceed. It may be in your best interests to file for divorce within the United States before your spouse files in the other country, especially if you want to make sure the divorce court hearings and meetings are local to you. You may both wish to discuss your preferences and determine if a foreign court or the United States court system is a better choice for the ending of your marriage.

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