Divorcing When Spouses Live in Different Countries
There are some situations when filing for divorce cannot wait until both parties are living in the same country. Divorcing a spouse who lives in a different country is slightly more complicated but not impossible, and you can even avoid having to hire an attorney. Most, if not all, of the steps listed below can be handled for you by a divorce mediator. You can save a substantial amount of money by using a mediator instead of a lawyer when there are international implications involved with the divorce, so if you need mediators who are experienced with international divorce issues, reach out to the San Diego divorce mediators from Divorce Options San Diego.
Research California’s Long-Arm Jurisdiction Laws
The term “long-arm jurisdiction” refers to the right of the state court to exercise jurisdiction over another foreign jurisdiction. For a state to have jurisdiction, it typically requires that you live in that state for a certain amount of time and the out-of-state or out-of-country spouse must have committed certain acts that necessitate the dissolution of the marriage contract. Long-arm jurisdiction can be used to terminate a marriage, but if children and custody issues are involved in the divorce, other laws regarding subject matter jurisdiction may go into effect.
International cases are more complex because of jurisdictional issues. Some people simply flee, and a divorce in California may not mean much to someone in Iran, Saudi Arabia, or Belgium. The Hague Divorce Convention regulates the recognition of divorces that have been performed according to the correct legal process in the state where the divorce was obtained. If the countries involved are signatories to the Hague Convention, the judgment may be recorded in the foreign country.
File a Petition
File a petition for the dissolution of the marriage with your spouse. A marital dissolution petition may include financial income requirements, a list of marital assets, any debts, and child custody information.
Translate Any Documents
The marital dissolution petition and the service summons may need to be translated for them to be delivered to your spouse. Talk with the United States embassy in your spouse’s country to determine if this is necessary. If it is, you may need to hire a translator. Both the English and translated petition and service summons should be delivered to your spouse.
Talk to Your Spouse About Waiving Process Requirements
The service summons can be difficult to deliver in a foreign country. If the divorce is amicable and your spouse is willing to work with you, he or she may agree to waive the process requirements. Your spouse will need to sign an affidavit in this case stating that he or she has been served and acknowledges receipt of the petition. This affidavit should be filed with a local court.
Serve the Papers Via Voluntary Acknowledgment
If your spouse doesn’t want to waive the process requirements but is cooperative, he or she can be served the papers via a voluntary acknowledgment. Your spouse won’t be formally served with the divorce petition but will rather acknowledge he or she is willing to accept the petition via mail. This acknowledgment is signed by your spouse and filed with the court. You can then simply mail the petition to your spouse.
After all the paperwork is filed, your spouse will either come to the United States to appear before a judge to finalize the divorce or meet with you and the judge via a teleconference. The issues will be discussed and agreed upon, and the marital settlement agreement will be signed. At this point, the divorce proceeds just like any other. Most countries recognize foreign divorce decrees as long as all procedural requirements are met.
All the steps listed above can be handled for you or avoided entirely when you hire experienced divorce mediators. International cases can be solved using mediation, and it’s much more cost-effective and less complex to get things sorted out using this process. Divorce Options San Diego can help you complete your divorce from beginning to end, even if international issues are involved. When we help you with our expert San Diego divorce mediation services, we can manage all the practical, legal, financial, and psychological aspects to help you and your spouse reach a fair, respectful divorce agreement. Our comprehensive process is so thorough that, in most cases, you won’t have to hire divorce attorneys, appear before a judge, or visit a courtroom to finalize the divorce. Please contact us at (858) 281-2628 for a discreet and confidential consultation to see how we can help.
Disclaimer: This blog does not constitute legal advice. If you have any questions about your individual situation, it’s best to seek the advice of an experienced legal professional.