In the Virginia, Maryland, and D.C. area, international relationships are common. If these relationships end, resulting divorces can be complex due to the nuances of international issues. If a spouse is a foreign national or marital property is located outside the United States, unique issues arise and it is important to consult a family law attorney experienced in these matters. The issues related to divorce, child custody, child and spousal support, and property division during an international divorce are not the same as for domestic divorces, and spouses should ensure they speak with knowledgeable attorneys.
Many countries have divorce procedures different than those in the United States and not all countries honor U.S. court rulings. There may also be other country specific treaties that impact divorce matters. Spouses need to take the question of jurisdiction seriously when deciding where to file for divorce.
After a divorce there may also be resulting issues of immigration or citizenship that must be addressed. Additionally, if a U.S. court grants an order requiring a spouse to pay spousal or child support and that spouse resides overseas, the individual seeking support may need to file an action internationally to enforce, or modify, the order if the paying spouse refuses to make support payments.
International Child Custody and Visitation
Particularly with international custody matters, the determination of where a child will reside is complex. If one parent wishes to move with a child outside of the U.S., it makes visitation more difficult and, thus, custody is likely to be contested. In contested divorces, there is also the risk that one parent will take a child outside of the U.S. to try and influence the child custody arrangement.
The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction provides for remedies in the event this “parental kidnapping” occurs. However, while the U.S. abides by the Hague Convention, not all countries do. Additionally, even if a country does abide by the Convention, it’s not always easy to find people abroad. If a parent is concerned about this possibility, it may be possible to have a child’s passport be held until after a custody order is entered.
Property division after a divorce is always a complex process, made even more complex when international assets are involved. Locating and valuing international assets can be difficult, but is crucial for ensuring an equitable distribution of property. An important component of this is selecting the right experts, knowledgeable in valuing foreign assets.
International family law issues are particularly complex and it is crucial that individuals consult with attorneys knowledgeable in these international issues. Family law attorneys at General Counsel, P.C. are experienced handling international family law matters and can help you navigate the process.