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Divorce not always a simple process in two countries

Couples face a number of stumbling blocks during the divorce process in the United States, but for international couples in unique situations who have children, they may find it to be more of a headache. Spouses who deal with divorce while living abroad, being married to a citizen of a different country or have dual citizenship face a number of additional problems.

First, couples should be aware that filing for a divorce in the United States may not be easy or available if they live abroad, even if one person in the marriage is a U.S. citizen. Courts in the county where a couple currently lives have the right to approve or deny a divorce. Additionally, filing times make a difference and laws can vary widely between countries. At times, spouses will have to travel to a country of origin in order to file for divorce and achieve it.

Property division is another problem that couples may have to solve. If couples cannot split assets by themselves, it will be up to the court to award any joint property, even property located in other countries.

Custody issues are some of the most common and complex issues in international divorces. It may involve parents moving to different countries and fighting to take a child or children with them. If conflicts are not settled, kidnappings can occur as well as potential litigation battles.

Although a mother used to traditionally have a right to her children without question, things are changing in the court system. Now, fathers are commonly able to fight for custody and challenge the mother's judgment. Location also plays a part, especially in cases with young children.

Although it is true divorce can be even more difficult to achieve if couples are in these circumstances, typically divorce is easily sought in Europe and America for dual citizens when compared to other countries. In any divorce involving dual citizenship or citizens from another country, couples should seek international counsel in order to proceed in an easier manner.

Source: Reuters, "Divorce in two countries is double the trouble," Geoff Williams, Oct. 24, 2012

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William C. Gentry, Attorney at Law

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