When most people think of a divorce, they think of a long, litigious, and stressful courtroom battle in which they bicker and argue with their spouse over who gets to keep the coffee table. While this is certainly true in some cases, it’s not all. However, despite of that fact, many couples look for a different, faster way of obtaining a divorce that they think will be better-suited to their needs. In some cases, this means looking abroad to any connection one of them might have to a foreign country.
Getting a divorce internationally could be dramatically different from a divorce here in the United States, requiring substantially less litigation. But is it really worth it? That depends on numerous factors, including how difficult the divorce abroad might be, and whether or not it will even be recognized as legally-binding here in the U.S. Here are a few important things to know to help you make the decision as to whether a foreign divorce is right for you.
Four Types of International Divorce
Generally, an international divorce falls into one of four categories, depending on where each spouse lives when the divorce is filed, and how they proceed through the process.
- Bilateral divorce: These occur when both spouses are physically present in the country where the divorce is heard, or one of the spouses is not present, but is represented at the divorce hearing by a local lawyer.
- Ex parte divorce: These divorces are when the spouse who files for the divorce is present in the country where the divorce is filed, but the other spouse is not in the country where the divorce is filed, and instead has been formally notified of the divorce proceedings.
- Practical recognition divorce: When one spouse is unable to challenge the validity of a judgement in a foreign country because the challenge would be unfair, given the circumstances, the divorce is considered a “practical recognition” divorce.
- Void divorce: These occur when a spouse obtains a divorce in another country without notifying their spouse here in the United States. These are not recognized as legitimate or legally binding under United States law.
Why Consider Foreign Divorce?
As stated previously, many couples choose to consider a divorce abroad because it might actually make finding a resolution to their case easier than they would here in the U.S. Some countries may have laws that are far more favorable to their goals, which may be in direct conflict with their spouse’s goals and why they won’t be achievable here in the U.S. This is malicious, and generally malicious intent in an international divorce means that the divorce itself will not be recognized or enforceable in the United States. Other times, couples choose to get a divorce abroad because foreign laws may allow them to resolve their divorce faster, allowing them to each get on with their lives with as little interruption as possible.
Some countries that meet these criteria include Mexico, Haiti, and the Dominican Republic, which are all fairly similar to each other in terms of their divorce laws, and each can usually be resolved overnight or over a long weekend in complex cases.
The Dominican Republic even offers divorces to foreigners, provided both spouses agree to file before the Dominican courts. Only one spouse even has to appear in the courtroom at all, and the process can be completed in as little as a half hour! This makes the process relatively painless, however, if you’re looking into completing a divorce in one of these destinations, you should be warned that your divorce will not be held as valid unless due process has been observed.
Things to Consider
New York and every other state in the U.S. is not legally required to honor or recognize a foreign divorce, and many divorces that are not obtained fairly are thrown out. Here are some things the state will carefully consider when deciding whether or not your divorce is valid:
Where does each spouse live?
Having an actual connection to the country in which you received the divorce will do a lot more when it comes to having the state recognize your divorce than simply running abroad with your spouse to a country neither of you have ever visited nor seen in order to simply dissolve your marriage. If one spouse has an actual residency abroad or holds a passport in the country in which you file for divorce, the chances of your divorce being recognized are much greater.
Did the other spouse receive adequate notice?
If you’re looking for a way to escape from your spouse and quickly file for divorce without their ability to object or have their say in the matter, then the state will most likely outright reject the foreign divorce. If the responding spouse has been properly and adequately notified, the state will most likely recognize the divorce.
Does the foreign divorce offend public policy?
As stated previously, malicious intent in a foreign divorce almost always gets rejected here in the United States. If a divorce was filed abroad in an effort to gain an unfair advantage for something like a child custody order or property division result, then odds are your divorce won’t be recognized. Essentially, a divorce that is filed abroad must be done fairly and without malicious intent, purely just with the intent of doing so under laws that are familiar for one spouse, or laws that are designed to help both spouses reach a fair conclusion in an expedited manner.
Want to learn more about filing for divorce while abroad? Contact a Poughkeepsie family law attorney from Klein & Sanchez, P.C. today! Call us at (845) 203-2287 for a free consultation.