As a Florida Bar Board Certified Expert in International Law, Attorney Boyer has the knowledge, resources, and experience to assist you with your international divorce.

The Big Question: Where to File

When you are considering a divorce, one of the most important decisions to make is where to file the divorce action. When making this decision, it is important to consider the jurisdiction of:

  • The marriage
  • The real property
  • The personal property
  • Custody of the children
  • Child support
  • Spousal support (alimony)
  • Enforceability of pre-nuptial agreement

One common reason why people file for divorce overseas is because the laws may allow for a faster divorce or more favorable alimony or property distribution laws. However, if you file for divorce in another country, it is important to ensure that the divorce will be recognized in the United States as well.

Although the recognition of a divorce is decided by the states (similar to how you must domesticate a judgment from another state in Florida), there are certain situations that will generally prevent you divorce from being recognized.

When determining if the foreign divorce should be recognized, the state will consider the residency of the spouses, if the non-filing spouse was properly notified, and if the foreign divorce offends public policy, such as parents who file for divorce in another country to gain a favorable custody decision.

It is important to speak to a divorce attorney in the state(s) in which you reside and/or own property before filing for divorce overseas. Alternatively, if you are a foreign national and you file for divorce in the United States, it is important to ensure that your home country will recognize the divorce.

Types of International Divorce:

  • Bilateral Divorce: Both spouses are physically present in the country where the divorce case is being heard, or one spouse is physically present in the country and the other spouse is represented by a local divorce attorney.
  • Ex Parte Divorce: Spouse who filed for divorce is physically present in the country and the other spouse is not in the country, but has been formally notified of the divorce proceedings.
  • Practical Recognition Divorce: One spouse is unable to challenge the validity of the foreign judgment because the challenge would be unfair under the circumstances.
  • Void Divorce: One spouse obtains a divorce in another country without notifying his or her spouse – NOT RECOGNIZED IN THE U.S.

Immigration Issues and Complications:

When a couple is divorced in Florida or the United States and one of them is a foreign national, there are many immigration issues that can arise, especially if the foreign spouse’s immigration status was based on the marriage.

If the marriage lasted less than 2 years after the issuance of the foreign spouse’s permanent residence, the foreign spouse will not be eligible to receive the removal of the conditions on their permanent residence.

Additionally, the non-foreign spouse most likely signed an I-864, Affidavit of Support, stating that they would provide financial support to the foreign spouse, and this may have unforeseen financial consequences during a divorce.

If you are getting divorced in Florida and you or your spouse is a foreign national, it is important to contact an experienced immigration attorney to discuss the potential ramifications the divorce may have on the immigration status of the foreign spouse.

If you are getting divorced in another country, or if you are thinking about getting divorced in Florida and you or your spouse is a foreign national, contact Boyer Law Firm, P.L. today.