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How to Divorce a Foreign National When They Have Left the Country

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When couples decide to divorce, they usually choose to live apart from one another for a period of time beforehand.

While this can be a challenging time for anyone, it becomes especially problematic if your spouse is a foreign national. Prior to the official divorce proceedings, your spouse may choose to leave the U.S. and return to their home country, where they can find support from loved ones. 

This can leave you stranded stateside, overwhelmed and unsure how to proceed. Yet, you are not without options or resources. Today, we’re explaining how to divorce a foreign national, and how our team can help.

Understand and Meet Residency Guidelines

Each state is governed by its own specific divorce laws, including residency requirements. These guidelines detail how a divorce will work if one or both spouses decides to leave the state for a period of time.

According to Florida law 61.021, at least one spouse must have resided in Florida for at least six months immediately prior to filing for divorce. This means that even if your partner has left the country and returned to their former home, you can still proceed with the divorce as long as you have remained in the state for at least six months beforehand.

In most cases, leaving for brief periods of time, such as to take a short-term vacation, will not affect your ability to met residency requirements.

Once you’ve established that you meet your state’s residency requirements, your next step is to provide a notice of the divorce proceedings to your spouse. These documents also outline your spouse’s requirement to respond to the filing.

As you might expect, this is often the most difficult part of the process. Successfully contacting your spouse in a different country requires specialized knowledge of the following:

  • U.S. Federal laws
  • State-specific laws
  • Treaties
  • Laws in the foreign country where your spouse resides

As such, it’s always best to let an experienced legal team handle this step for you. Find an attorney skilled in family law, who knows how to mediate between you and your spouse to get the appropriate paperwork completed.

If your spouse will voluntairily accept the divorce papers and sign a form confirming receipt, this complicated procedure becomes much simpler. Yet, high tensions often prevent a couple from navigating this step successfully on their own. An attorney can help expedite this step and avoid costly mistakes.

What happens if your spouse won’t accept the divorce papers? In this case, legal assistance becomes even more critical. Other entities might also get involved, including the U.S. Marshal’s Office or authorities in the foreign country where your spouse resides.

In some cases, the U.S. court might also prepare Letters Rogatory. These letters are an official request for judicial assistance from foreign authorities.

How to Divorce a Foreign National? Let Us Help

If you’re ready to end your marriage, the idea itself can be daunting enough. You shouldn’t have to worry about the other roadblocks and issues that can occur as you learn how to divorce a foreign national.

Our team of experienced family law practitioners is ready to help. We’ll help ensure this process is as seamless as possible, even taking on challenging cases where children or intellectual property are involved.

For more information on the services we provide, contact our office today.


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