Even though it's a difficult decision to make, a divorce can be the only way to happiness for many people. No matter where they are or what they are doing, a divorce might be the only way out.
Many situations arise in which U.S. citizens move to other countries to live with their new spouses. Sometimes, these U.S. citizens living in foreign countries need divorces, but feel unsure about the laws and regulations. Although it is seemingly confusing at first, this area of marriage and divorce law is just a matter of research. If you are dealing with a divorce overseas and plan to return to the U.S., it's important to understand the specific laws in your situation. .
Getting a divorce overseas is not a problem or something you should necessarily avoid, but be aware of the jurisdiction. Generally, the United States will recognize a divorce that took place in a foreign country as long as certain circumstances are met. Each one of the United States has its own individual terms on divorce. However, according to the basis of comity, states in America will generally accept the terms of the divorce that were set in the foreign country. In other words, the laws where you got married will carry over to the U.S. It is not a guarantee, and the recognition on the basis of comity can be withheld. There is no treaty between the U.S. and another country that establishes any type of official judgment regarding foreign divorces.
Essentially, there are four types of foreign divorces. If the divorce takes place with both parties present in the divorcing country, it is known as a bilateral divorce. In this case, one party can actually be present and the other, if in another location, can be represented by their attorney. The next type of foreign divorce is known as an ex parte divorce, a process in which only one party is participating in the divorce in the absence of the other. A practical recognition divorce is when the recognition of a foreign divorce is denied because it would be an unfair judgment for the party involved. Finally, a void divorce is basically an ex parte divorce in which one party is unaware of the divorce. This is not a valid type of divorce and will not be officially recognized in the United States.
A key factor in this area of divorce is proving that the divorce happened and that it was official wherever it took place. Contact the Attorney General of the specific state where you are trying to prove the divorce and direct your questions to them. Explain your situation honestly and find out the exact actions you need take. You can also find an attorney to take specific care of your case.
Generally, the first step toward proving your foreign divorce should be to acquire a divorce decree from the country in which the divorce took place. Most states will acknowledge a foreign divorce decree, offering "full faith and credit." However, one of the parties must prove domicile in the foreign divorce country, showing they have taken up residence there. Some states will not recognize a divorce if this is not proven.
Once you have the divorce decree from the foreign country where you got the divorce, have it authenticated so you can legitimately use it in the United States. The fee is $8.00 per document and can be done through the U.S. Department of State Authentication Office. Finally, you will need to have the document certifiably translated into English, if necessary, before you send it in.
If you did not receive a "Certificate of Witness to Marriage," you will need to acquire a foreign marriage certificate from the country in which you were married. This will follow a similar process as the divorce decree. Get in contact with the embassy or consulate in the country where you were married, or send a translated letter, and find out the exact way to acquire a marriage certificate. Once you acquire it, you must again authenticate the document for use in the United States through the U.S. Department of State Authentication.
Acquiring, authenticating, translating, and sending in your foreign marriage and divorce documents should prove sufficiently that you are officially divorced. Again, contact your state's Attorney General to find out specifics on where documents should be sent. You could otherwise utilize the help of an attorney, preferably one with experience in international law cases.
No matter what kind of foreign divorce you are involved in, you must have the correct information to move forward. Whether you seek out the help of an attorney or do the research yourself, you need to find out exactly what laws are applying to you and how they will affect your specific case. There are different uniform laws in different states, so each case will be unique.
For example, the Uniform Act on Marriage and Divorce, applicable in states such as Arizona, Georgia and Kentucky, forces the court clerk to register the divorce in the country where the marriage was registered. In other words, if you marry in Russia and divorce in Kentucky, your divorce will be registered in Russia. The Uniform Divorce Recognition Act, applicable in states such as California, North Dakota and Wisconsin, says that a foreign divorce will not be recognized if both parties reside in the home state.
You can see how specific details that exist in each state's laws will affect your foreign divorce. If you do not understand all of the laws being applied to your case, you can't be sure you are making the correct decisions and pursuing the right actions. With the help of attorneys and other resources, you can make intelligent, informed decisions that will expedite the frustrating divorce process and make sure your foreign divorce is officially recognized in the United States.