There are many reasons why the question of international jurisdiction can come up in a divorce. If one parent is from one nation and the other from another country, whether they live there or just own real estate, international laws must be considered.

Getting a divorce in any country is challenging, and it presents issues such as child support, visitation, and alimony. The laws differ from one country to another.  Well before you reach the settlement part of the divorce and the custody and child support part of the case, you have to find out which court/country has jurisdiction.  You will need to know:

  • Do both parties have sufficient ties to the country where the divorce is being filed?
  • Does this court have legal authority under the laws of that nation to decide this case?
  • Do both countries involved have the authority to decide the case?
  • If this is the case, which court will be more likely to rule in your favor?

Note: You need a child custody lawyer to help you with this complicated issue.

Filing divorce in the United States

Divorces are decided in state courts, and the states have residency requirements. This means at least one of the people seeking a divorce must live in the state in which you file, usually for a period of at least six months. Some states have a residency requirement of weeks and others can require you live there for one year. You will need to research the requirements for the state in which you are filing.

If one of you meet these requirements, then you can file for divorce in the United States, even if the other spouse lives in another country.

Child custody disputes

Child custody disputes are often part of a divorce, but they pose a severe consequence for divorcing a partner that lives in another country. The danger comes in when one parent decides to ignore the law, take their child to their home country and refuse to return them. When this happens, the custodial parent must petition the court under the Hague Convention. The Hague Convention is a treaty between more than 40 countries that helps prevent custody child abductions. This is a highly effective and very specific treaty that does not allow a parent to take a child into hiding against the laws of the land. Again, this is something most people will need help with. If you are in this situation, you need the services of an experienced child custody attorney.

Once the divorce is finished and the child custody has been decided, steps can be taken to place the children with the custodial parent. Visitation is something the court must address and the international issues and the behavior of the parents before and during the divorce are considered.

It is possible for divorce proceedings to be ongoing in more than one country. This happens when a parent is attempting to get the court in their nation to award them full custody. It is a battle that must be fought in accordance with international laws.