Connecticut International Divorce and Custody Lawyer

  •   |   Meghan Freed

While all divorces bring a set of challenges, international divorces can be even more demanding. There might be income disparity in the marriage, leading to questions regarding alimony, spousal support and child support. The division of assets is made more complicated when some of the assets are located outside of the United States. Countries have their own laws regarding property, and at first glance, a jurisdiction might not be clear. When it comes to child custody and parenting, parents are often concerned about relocating children, international custody, and enforcing orders abroad. In high-conflict cases, child abduction is a serious concern. Because international divorces are so complex, you need a divorce law firm with experience in the nuances. Freed Marcroft is experienced with complicated assets and intricate estate planning; putting our Connecticut international divorce and custody lawyers in the position to help high net worth clients resolve complicated issues during divorce and custody proceedings.

When You Need International Divorce and Custody Attorneys

International divorce and child custody are complex. In some cases, both Connecticut and international laws play a role in property division and parenting agreements. You need an attorney experienced in international divorce when:

  • You married in another country
  • You own property internationally
  • One or both spouses live outside the United States
  • You are a Connecticut resident whose spouse filed for divorce in another country
  • There are potential international custody issues

Property Division Considerations

Property division can be one of the most complicated aspects of an international divorce. First, you need to determine jurisdiction. A court must have subject matter jurisdiction and personal jurisdiction to hear your divorce case. Then, the court must value your property, including any international property located in different countries. When a property is held in another country, it’s generally valued based on that country’s taxes and laws.

Connecticut is an equitable distribution state. If you divorce in a Connecticut court, the property will be divided fairly but not necessarily evenly. Once the court divides the property, both parties must comply, or the order has to be enforced Post Judgment. Enforcing a U.S. court order overseas requires a skilled law firm with the necessary resources.

International Custody Considerations

When international spouses with children divorce in Connecticut, custody and parenting require more attention and experience than other divorce cases because of the added high-stakes intricacies. For example, if your children’s “home state” under the Uniform Child Custody and Jurisdiction Act (UCCJA) is outside of Connecticut, you may have a Connecticut divorce with child custody addressed elsewhere.

The most serious cases are when one parent leaves the United States with the child in defiance of your child custody orders. This may be child abduction, resulting in a high-conflict, international litigation. The Hague Convention on Private Law aimed to streamline the process of returning internationally abducted children, but can only be enforced in one of the 75 member countries. Freed Marcroft’s international child custody attorneys find mediation or collaborative divorce to be particularly effective in these cases, as they allow the flexibility to design international parenting plans; addressing and providing critical safeguards for international travel.

Benefits of Filing for an International Divorce First

There are numerous advantages to filing for an international divorce first. When there’s potential residency in another state or country, filing first gives you a greater chance of choosing the jurisdiction. This has both practical advantages and strategic advantages – for example, one state’s laws may be more favorable to your goals. You will also be in charge of timing the Automatic Orders, which impact custody and parenting. Plus, by controlling the date of filing, you will have the opportunity to gather documents before the divorce gets going. Finally, assembling your legal team first means you’ll retain the international divorce lawyer of your choice before your spouse has a chance to hire that attorney.

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International Divorce and Custody

  •   |   Meghan Freed

While no divorce is easy, international divorce and custody cases can be especially complex and high-stake. If you are facing the prospect of an international divorce, you need legal help from a divorce attorney with experience not just in family law but international divorce and custody in particular.

What exactly does “international divorce” mean? Multiple situations can fit this definition, including:

  • You and your spouse married abroad
  • You, your spouse, or both of you live outside the United States
  • Your spouse filed for divorce in a different country
  • You own a property abroad
  • You have children and anticipate international custody issues
  • You live abroad now but one or both of you plan to return to the U.S. in the near future

Do any of these circumstances apply to your case? If so, you should hire an attorney knowledgeable in international divorce.

Where Should You File For Divorce?

Depending on your situation, you may be wondering whether you should, or even can, file for divorce in the United States. Generally, if either you or your spouse live in the U.S., you can file here, especially if your children are U.S. citizens as well.

Once you have decided to file, we recommend doing so sooner rather than later. If you spend too long debating whether to file in the U.S. or abroad, your spouse might beat you to the punch. If possible, you will want to file first.

Why is Filing First Important?

Filing first offers a few advantages. For instance, in some situations, you might prefer a certain jurisdiction because its laws are more likely to be favorable to you.

Filing for divorce in Connecticut also means you control the timing of automatic court orders. Automatic orders are important for preserving the status quo of your property, your finances, and your children’s situation until the court has given its verdict.

If your spouse knows or suspects you plan to file, they may hurry to take a large sum of money out of a joint account, sell property, or take the children out of the state before the automatic orders are in effect.

Finally, you want to secure a divorce lawyer before your spouse turns to the same law firm for representation. This point is significant in international divorce cases because, unlike Freed Marcroft’s team, many family law attorneys have insufficient knowledge of international divorce specifics.

International Custody

Custody can be one of the most high-tension aspects of an international divorce. In the U.S., all states will enforce the court’s original custody orders if one of the parents unlawfully keeps a child in another state away from the second parent. When one of the spouses lives abroad, implementing custody orders may become more complicated.

The Hague Convention on Private Law enforces custody orders internationally, but only in 75 member countries. If your children are in a country that is not part of the Hague Convention, getting them back may involve complex and nerve-wracking international litigation. In some heartbreaking cases, children may become completely estranged from one parent.

International Divorce and Property

If you filed for divorce in the United States but have a joint property in a different country, property division can be complicated. Property valuation is subject to the laws of the country where the asset is located, but in property division, the courts follow the ruling of the state that has issued the divorce order.

Because not all countries will accept a U.S. court ruling, your spouse may refuse to surrender the joint property. They may even try to hide assets overseas. In some cases, you might face a complex legal battle in international courts to recover your property.

Proficient legal support can be a powerful tool in negotiating property division during international divorce.

Mediation and Collaborative Divorce

Regardless of the specifics, it is always better to divorce amicably, but avoiding animosity and clashes over finances or custody is doubly important in the international divorce scenario.

If you are preparing to go through an international divorce, we recommend mediation and collaborative divorce, especially in cases involving children. In our experience, collaboration allows both parties to work out international parenting schedules and financial issues that could otherwise be extremely complicated and timely to navigate.

At Freed Marcroft, our team not only includes knowledgeable, experienced international divorce and custody attorneys, but also highly-trained mediators and collaborative divorce lawyers who are exceptionally skilled in resolving conflicts. Whether you are located in Connecticut, elsewhere in the U.S., or abroad, we’ll go the extra mile to help you avoid exhausting high-conflict litigation.

Take the Next Step with Freed Marcroft

Our first step at Freed Marcroft, the Goals & Planning Conference, is designed to get to the heart of your problem and unveil your true goals. Then, we take those goals along with the facts of your case and analyze them so that we can present you with recommendations and options on how to move forward. Schedule your Goals & Planning Conference today, or contact us here.

Copyright © 2021. Freed Marcroft. All rights reserved.

The information in this blog post (“post”) is provided for general informational purposes only, and may not reflect the current law in your jurisdiction. No information contained in this post should be construed as legal advice from the individual author or the law firm, nor is it intended to be a substitute for legal counsel on any subject matter. No reader of this post should act or refrain from acting on the basis of any information included in, or accessible through, this post without seeking the appropriate legal or other professional advice on the particular facts and circumstances at issue from a lawyer licensed in the recipient’s state, country or other appropriate licensing jurisdiction.

Freed Marcroft LLC
419 Main Street
Hartford, CT 06103
(860) 530-4214

Freed Marcroft LLC

Freed Marcroft LLC