What’s something that’s worse than divorce? The prospect of two divorces in two different countries. Red tape, bureaucracy, money, cultural differences, travel are some of the many problems faced by Americans facing a divorce in a second country.
While this may seem like a problem that affects only a small group, the fact is many may one day encounter such a predicament. If you’re a dual citizen, you or your spouse has been living abroad, you married a citizen of another country or your spouse fled the country with the kids, you too might have to go through the legal system of another country to obtain a divorce.
Given the increasing interconnectedness of the world, this is a problem that is affecting more and more people. Parental kidnappings make the headlines regularly and more and more parents are willing to fight to get the kids back in the United States.
If you are facing a possible foreign divorce the first question to content with is where will it be easiest for you to get a divorce? Just because you or your spouse is American, that does not meant that you can file in the U.S., especially if you live abroad. The issue is not where you were born, but where you are currently living that determines which court has jurisdiction.
Though exceptions abound, a good rule of thumb is that divorce is easier to manage in the U.S. and Europe as laws tend to value fairness and equality between the parties. Laws in the Middle East and parts of Africa can be especially hard on women, making it almost impossible for mother’s to gain custody of the kids. Even this conversation about where you will divorce relies on the assumption that you and your spouse agree about where to file. If you don’t, the process becomes a race as whoever files first determines where the divorce will take place.
Property division can be another tricky issue when divorcing from different countries as property is often spread across the globe. The way it works is similar to children, the court with jurisdiction has the authority to given property to whichever party it desires, no matter what country the property is located in. If a spouse is overseas with the property and refuses to give it up, you are left with two choices: hoping that the spouse hands over the goods or showing up in their country and trying to use their native court system to force them to release the property.
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