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International Divorce in Orlando: Legal Complexities and Solutions

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What Is an International Divorce?

An international divorce involves two or more countries in which the spouses have a connection based on marriage, residence, property, domicile, marital contract, or other factors. It can be complicated by the different laws of the countries involved and by the difficulty of serving a divorce petition on a spouse located in another country. Several types of international divorces are possible, including:

  • Ex parte divorce, in which only one spouse is present for the proceedings and the other spouse has been notified; and
  • Bilateral divorce, in which both spouses are present or represented in the country where the divorce is filed.

What Are the Legal Complexities of an International Divorce?

Two legal questions apply to every international divorce: which court has jurisdiction, and which country’s law will govern the divorce case? Jurisdiction is the authority of a court to hear and decide on a particular case or specific issues within a case. In international situations, more than one court may have jurisdiction over some or all decisions made in the case. A court in one country may have jurisdiction to decide on some issues only in a divorce and not on others. Situations in which jurisdiction over a divorce may become complicated include:

  • Both spouses are American and living outside of the U.S.
  • Both spouses are non-citizens living within the United States.
  • An American spouse who resides in the U.S. has a non-citizen spouse living in another country, or vice versa.
  • An American spouse is living abroad and married to a foreign national.
  • One spouse in a marriage is American with dual citizenship.

What Is the Importance of Jurisdiction in an International Divorce?

The court that has jurisdiction over a divorce can have a significant impact on the proceedings and on the outcome of the case. When two or more countries have jurisdiction, it may be a matter of which spouse gets to the courthouse to file a petition first. In some cases, a divorce will be decided in the court where proceedings were first initiated. In other cases, divorce may proceed in two countries simultaneously and will be decided by the court that rules first. In other cases, a court with jurisdiction may determine that the court in another country is better suited to rule on the issues of a divorce.

How Can International Law Impact an International Divorce in Orlando?

Where applicable, international treaties and conventions can impact international divorces. For example, according to the Hague Conference on Private International Law, the June 1, 1970, Convention on the Recognition of Divorces and Legal Separations aims to facilitate the recognition of divorces and legal separations obtained in one contracting state by another contracting state. This can help ensure that divorced and legally separated statuses receive the same recognition abroad as in the country where they were obtained. The convention clarifies the legal relationships of the couples concerned and simplifies the possibility of remarriage.

How Do You File for International Divorce in Florida?

If you are living in the U.S. and your spouse is living in another country, you may file for divorce in the state where you live, provided you meet residency requirements. Under Florida Statutes § 61.021, to obtain a divorce in Florida, one of the spouses must have lived in the state for six months before filing a petition for dissolution of marriage. An international divorce in Orlando will proceed in the same way as other divorces, except that it may be a challenge to serve the petition on a spouse residing abroad. In most cases, divorce petitions must be served by handing the document directly to the other party. Alternatives in an international divorce may include the following:

  • Waiver of personal service: If you and your spouse are on good terms and have agreed to divorce, he or she may be willing to sign a waiver of personal service, which you will be required to file with the court. Once the waiver is filed, you have the option to serve your spouse by email, fax, or “snail mail.”
  • Foreign process server: If your spouse is not willing to waive personal service, you have the option to hire a process server in the country where your spouse resides to personally serve him or her.
  • Publication: If you do not have an address for your spouse but know the city and country in which he or she is living, you may petition the court for permission to serve by publication. This requires posting a notice in a local newspaper or publication approved by the court at specific intervals for the required period (for example, once a week for four weeks). If service by publication is allowed, you will need to file a document that provides proof of service with the court.

Why Do You Need an Experienced Lawyer for an International Divorce in Orlando?

Divorce proceedings do much more than just dissolve the marriage. They establish custody of minor children, determine rights to child support and alimony, and divide marital property between the spouses. Laws governing these issues can vary from one country to another. If you are facing international divorce, you need an experienced divorce attorney to guide you through the complexities and help you find solutions to various issues that may arise. Contact The Law Office of Erin Morse at (407) 743-6059 for skilled legal representation in an international divorce in Orlando.

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