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Dangers of Uncontested Foreign Divorces

Posted By Attorney Jim Cairns || 7-Mar-2013

Shopping around for a cheap uncontested divorce can end up costing more money if you decide to get a foreign divorce. If you and your spouse live in the United States, a foreign divorce can seem like an easy way to go, but there are hidden factors which can make your uncontested divorce more expensive and possibly not even valid.

Be aware that divorce is considered a matter for the state, not the federal government. The United States does not have any treaty with another country to enforce any type of divorce judgment. This can adversely affect any matters concerning alimony, child support or property.

A divorce issued in a foreign country may be recognized by the state, but there are factors which are considered in order for it to be valid. The first one is that both parties must have received adequate notice. In addition, if the state is not satisfied with a domicile requirement, the uncontested divorce can be considered void. Even though a country may state that you do not have to have legal residence in their country, this is not necessarily true for U.S. laws. You may also have to hire a U.S. attorney, in addition to services already paid, to try to prove the validity of your divorce.

Spouses who may be trying to get an uncontested divorce without their spouse's consent through a foreign country will find themselves with an invalid divorce judgment. The courts do not recognize or enforce this type of foreign uncontested divorce. A spouse who attempts this form of divorce may quickly find themselves in a heated contested divorce.

A spouse may be trying to get a divorce in a country which may favor him or her having child custody. If a spouse flees the country in order to obtain a divorce under these conditions, Pennsylvania courts are unlikely to recognize the divorce. Malicious intentions coupled with a foreign divorce are not looked upon favorably by the courts.

If a foreign divorce office claims that your divorce will be registered with the U.S. embassy or consulates abroad, this is a red flag. Currently, there are no provisions to register a foreign divorce with either type of office. Authentication of a foreign divorce can become costly. Some of the services you may have to pay for include translations of a divorce decree and other legal documents, plus possible additional attorney fees. Keep in mind, even though your uncontested divorce may be authenticated in a foreign country, this does not mean it will necessarily be recognized in the United States.