What Should I Consider When Filing for an International Divorce?

Even filing for a relatively "normal" uncontested divorce where both parties reside in the same state can be challenging. When state or country lines play a role in the divorce process, it can become significantly more problematic for everyone involved. Knowing what to expect from an international divorce can help you move through your divorce more quickly.

To schedule a free consultation with an experienced divorce lawyer, contact us online or via phone at (303) 647-4245.

International Divorce - the Basics

Firstly, let's go over some of the basics of getting an international divorce.

Your first step should be figuring out which countries have jurisdiction over the divorce. If you or your spouse is a dual resident, both the U.S. and whatever country you have a domicile in may have jurisdiction over your divorce. It's also worth noting that in most cases, your marriage must be recognized as legal in a second country to file for divorce outside of the U.S.

In many cases, if a party files for divorce first with a court in their country, that country has primary jurisdiction over the case, meaning that country's divorce laws will be used to determine how the divorce proceeds.

This is a crucial element of international divorces. Some countries, for example, have laws surrounding divorce that are less favorable for women. Find a lawyer who does international divorce and ask them about divorce laws in whatever other country could play a role in the divorce, or start doing that research yourself. Understanding which country has more equitable divorce laws, and then ensuring you file for divorce in that country, is vital if you want to achieve the best outcome in your divorce.

Courts typically use a few factors to verify that they have jurisdiction over a court. This may include examining identification such as a driver's license, birth certificate, or social security card, or verifying that the individual filing or their partner habitually reside in the country where divorce is being filed, or have a domicile there.

Since how international divorces proceed can depend on the country where the divorce is filed, hiring a lawyer who has experience with international divorces is highly recommended, especially if you have property in more than one country, or may wish to share custody across countries. That said, let's examine some of the challenges individuals regularly face when filing for an international divorce.

Property Division May Be Difficult

The legal elements of property division in international divorces can be challenging, especially if multiple courts are involved in the divorce. However, more than anything, the sheer logistics of property division in an international divorce can be a pain.

If you and your spouse intend to liquidate assets and simply transfer money from account to account, that may not be as problematic, although exchange rates can impact one party negatively. However, if you want to try and transport property from one country to another, the costs of said transportation may need to be factored into the divorce process.

Child Custody Can Be Exceptionally Difficult

If you or the other party wish to try and share custody across country borders, it can be challenging, especially if the expense of getting a child from one country to another would be challenging for one of the parents.

As you proceed toward your divorce, consult your lawyer and see if they have experience with international custody cases. Using someone who has the experience necessary to help you find a good outcome in your case will be vital.

Enforcing Orders May Be Challenging

Unfortunately, many people often find that getting courts to enforce international court orders is difficult. A court in another country may be responsible for enforcing your order, which shouldn't be a problem, but unfortunately, sometimes is in some countries. If you have a lawyer who does international divorces on retainer, they should be able to help you find an effective way to prepare for problems enforcing cross-country orders.

At the Law Office of Alexandra White, P.C., our attorneys have the experience necessary to ensure you pursue the best possible outcome in your international divorce. To schedule a free consultation with our team, contact us online or via phone at (303) 647-4245.