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International Family Law – What is a migratory divorce?

Migratory Divorces

Will the U.S. recognize your international divorce?
International Divorce is a family law matter.

Depending on the classification of the divorce, the U.S. may or may not recognize its decree.  Furthermore, divorce is a state law issue.  In most divorce cases, the state considers the residency of the spouses, notice of the divorce decree, and public policy.

Types of International Divorce:

Bilateral : This is based on both spouses being present in the divorcing nation.  “Being present” can include the petitioner being physically present in the divorcing nation and the respondent voluntarily appearing through an attorney.  Bilateral divorces are when both spouses are subject to personal jurisdiction in the jurisdiction where the proceedings are happening.  This can occur even if only one of the spouses is validly domiciled in that jurisdiction.

Ex Parte: This type occurs when the petitioner is physically in court and the respondent has notice or constructive service and is absent. “Ex parte” refers to a legal proceeding that takes place on behalf of only one party.

Notice is an important aspect of an ex parte arrangement because courts want to ensure that both spouses know about the impending divorce.  You can provide notice to your spouse by personally serving them notice.  Similarly, you can provide notice in other ways such as sending notice through certified mail or publishing a notice in the local newspaper.  Courts typically recognize personal service of notice in every jurisdiction; however, sending notice by certified mail or publishing in a local newspaper may have certain qualifications.

Practical Recognition: Where one spouse is unable to challenge the validity of the foreign judgment because the challenge would be unfair.  Equitable doctrines such as estoppel, and unclean hands can prevent a party from invalidating such an agreement.

Void Divorce:  Where one spouse obtains a divorce in another country without notifying his or her spouse. The U.S. does not recognize this action.

If you have questions regarding whether the United States will recognize your divorce decree, please contact us.  We have experienced attorneys who look forward to assisting you.

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