International Divorce and Custody
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
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.
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.
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.
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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.