The laws regarding divorce, property division, child custody, and support in the United States are not the same as the laws in other countries, which makes these divorces difficult.
You may need an attorney familiar with international divorce if any of these apply:
- You married in another country
- One or both of you live overseas
- You own property in another country
- There is the potential for international child custody issues
Who has jurisdiction in my divorce?
In many cases, more than one country has jurisdiction in an international divorce case. Different countries, however, have very different laws and divorce protocols. For this reason, it is paramount that you discuss your situation with a Petrelli Law international divorce lawyer as early in the process as possible. Your attorney will consider all possible jurisdictions for your case and help you decide which is most appropriate for you.
Selecting the right jurisdiction for your divorce can influence the outcome of your case. Many people facing an international divorce find that the laws in the United States allow them to reach a fair settlement with their former spouse. For others, however, filing for divorce in another country is advantageous.
Unfortunately, you may need to make this decision quickly. If your spouse disagrees with the jurisdiction you choose, he or she can simply file in his or her preferred jurisdiction. Whichever party files first determines which court oversees the proceedings.
What are some of the unique challenges of an international divorce?
Because of the differing laws from one country to the next, international divorces have some very unique challenges. These often include:
- Property division, especially when one person lives overseas or the property is in another country (e.g., certain countries have very strict privacy laws which can make it impossible to find property)
- Relocation of children across country borders
- Child custody issues involving multiple governments
- Enforcement of court orders, including parenting plans, spousal support, and property division
Another challenge of some international divorces also lies in proving the validity of a divorce finalized on foreign soil. In some countries, laws may dictate that you are still married or that the orders issued in your divorce are not valid.
How can I protect my child in an international divorce?
Filing for divorce in the United States offers a number of protections for your child. These include:
- Requiring the consent of both parents before granting a passport for a child
- Requiring court approval before either parent takes the child to another country
- Preventing the permanent relocation of the child to another country
- Protecting visitation rights and ensuring the child lives close enough to follow the parenting plan
If you are afraid your former spouse will take your children out of the country, would like to move back to your home country while maintaining joint custody, or have other child custody concerns, enlist the help of an international family law attorney.
What laws govern international divorce?
Since the 1970s, the international community has made efforts to ease the process of validating divorce and enforcing court orders on property division, child custody, and child support across borders. More than 75 countries are members of the Hague Conference on Private International Law, which includes several divorce-related conventions, including:
- Convention on the Recognition of Divorces and Legal Separations
- Convention on the Law Applicable to Matrimonial Property Regimes
- Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction
- Convention on the International Recovery of Child Support and Other Forms of Family Maintenance
Not all member countries ratified all of these conventions, but they continue to be applicable in some circumstances. The Hague Convention of the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction is especially useful, and is often called on in cases where a parent takes a child to another country without approval.
Contact Our Lawyers for Assistance
The attorneys at Petrelli Previtera Schimmel, LLC have successfully handled many international divorce cases. We will help you determine the best jurisdiction for your divorce and represent you throughout the process. Our knowledge of family law in other countries will help us exercise your legal rights to your property and children.
If you are a New Jersey or Pennsylvania resident involved in an international divorce or are considering one, contact us today at 215-523-6900.