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What Difficulties May I Face in an International Divorce?

Posted by Thomas Huguenor on May 26, 2020 in Divorce

International laws surrounding divorce can make the process more difficult for couples living in two separate countries. Many San Diego residents got married while oversees or met their spouse in another country before returning to the United States. When their relationships break down and they separate, one partner may return to their home country or move elsewhere. This has led to some confusion about how to file for a divorce when one partner lives in a separate country or the marriage was officiated outside the United States.

Why International Divorces Are Complicated

Divorce laws vary by states and countries, meaning that the requirements to be legally divorced in California can differ from the requirements in Spain. Courts in Europe, for example, have fewer rules about disclosing finances in divorces, whereas a California court will require you to fully map out your estate to divide your property. In addition, other countries do not require one member to notify the other about the divorce proceedings.

You may also have issues determining alimony, child support, and custody rights. These laws will change depending on what country each spouse is living in and may impact everything from how you divide visitation time to how you file your taxes. It may also prove more costly to divide visitation time between two countries and difficult to enforce custody rights.

There is also the issue of the legality of your marriage. Whereas some countries may recognize a marriage officiated in the United States, others may have additional requirements or have laws against your marriage, such as the case with some countries and same-sex marriage. If one spouse is living in one such country, then it may be difficult for them to file a divorce when their marriage is not recognized. Alternatively, if one of you is a resident of California, our courts do recognize same-sex marriage and allow couples to file for a divorce, so the process may prove easier through a California court.

Your best route to begin filing an international divorce is to contact an international divorce lawyer to discuss your case. We can explain the requirements under California law and determine what options are available if you were married internationally or one spouse is living outside the United States. In the meantime, we have also outlined the broad requirements for filing a divorce in California and internationally.

Getting a Divorce in California

Generally, marriage and divorce are subject to each state’s laws and there are no overriding federal laws that can impact an international divorce. In turn, California courts are compelled to acknowledge divorces filed in other states. However, each court has the right to acknowledge or deny divorces filed internationally on a case-by-case basis.

To file for divorce in California, you and your ex-spouse must be residents of the state, divide your property, determine alimony, determine child support, and develop a parenting plan with regards to child custody. You are also required to notify your ex-spouse of your plans to file a divorce and disclose your financial information to a California court.

Filing an International Divorce

If you are residing in California, you may file for a divorce in a California court, even if your spouse lives internationally. You will be expected to serve them with papers notifying them of the divorce, but you are ultimately under the jurisdiction of California law and your proceedings can take place here. It may prove more difficult to notify them of the divorce, as you will have to go through a third-party to deliver the papers, but this matter can be discussed with your attorney to determine the best option.

However, if your spouse files for a divorce in another country, the matter is significantly more complicated. You may be expected to fulfill the requirements for that court for the divorce to proceed while also abiding by California laws for your divorce to be valid. But if the international court provides documentation of the divorce and requires one member to serve the other with a notice, then it may be recognized in California. You can then focus on fulfilling the international requirements, but you will want a lawyer on your side to ensure your property is divided properly, custody rights are upheld, and alimony and child support are allocated appropriately.

Solutions for Couples Seeking a Divorce

If you and your spouse are still on speaking terms, discuss how you would like to file for a divorce before separating and moving to another country. As mentioned earlier, international divorces are extremely complicated, and determining the best options for both of you early on can save you a lot of time, stress, and money. Once you have made a plan on how to proceed, contact the San Diego divorce attorney at Huguenor Mattis, A.P.C. Our lead attorney can review all options available to you both, evaluate your property, mediate child custody discussions, and work with you both towards an amicable solution. Call us at (858) 458-9500 to learn how to best proceed with an international divorce.

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Huguenor Mattis, A.P.C. is a San Diego, California firm practicing exclusively in the area of domestic relations law. We handle a wide range of matters including divorce, child custody, and child support. Whatever your situation we can be of assistance. Feel free to contact us today.

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