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Filing for Divorce When You Live in a Foreign Country

Transnational divorce is one in which the two spouses live in different countries. This can be a very complex legal affair. The processes you must take to complete your divorce when living in different countries can vary greatly depending on where you live.

However, below is some general information you should know if one of you is currently living outside the United States.

If the filing spouse lives abroad

When filing for divorce while living in another country, you must ensure you abide by the laws in your local area, as well as U.S. law, to move forward. Your first step should be to get in touch with an American embassy or consulate near you to obtain legal assistance and any assistance the embassy can provide.

The United States will recognize foreign divorce decrees in some circumstances, but the extent to which it recognizes them can be limited. There are some procedural requirements (such as proper service of papers) that must be met. It is also important to note that a foreign divorce notice might not be able to resolve all of your divorce-related matters due to jurisdictional issues. Matters involving child custody, for example, can likely not get resolved with a court order from a foreign court

If the non-filing spouse lives abroad

If you are the spouse who lives in the United States and are divorcing a partner who now lives abroad, you must file an action for divorce in your local court (meeting all your local requirements), and then have a copy of that summons with notice served on your spouse. Your spouse may agree to waive those requirements, however.

Lack of such waiver can make matters a bit more complicated, as you will be forced to comply with the laws of the country where your spouse lives when it comes to serving the papers. You may need to work with attorneys both in the United States and in that country to make sure the process goes smoothly. The local court here in the United States must also determine if it has the authority to make orders of any kind over your spouse. Again, this will depend largely on where your spouse lives.

For more detailed information on how to proceed with divorcing a spouse while you live in different countries, work with an experienced divorce attorney at Jakubowski, Robertson, Maffei, Goldsmith & Tartaglia LLP.