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Many Americans and dual citizens hold substantial assets in foreign countries for various reasons, including those that were acquired prior to residing in the United States. High-net-worth individuals often keep assets abroad for favorable tax treatment or to protect their wealth, since property held in foreign countries cannot easily be seized by U.S. based creditors or claimants. Sometimes, people illegally hide their wealth from domestic taxing or law enforcement authorities. Whatever the reasons or circumstances, divorce cases become more complicated when one or both spouses have asset holdings in other countries.
Property held abroad is subject to the laws of the country where it is located. Many nations have complex or unique laws concerning privacy, taxation and transfer of bank accounts and other property. In most instances, an American divorce decree will have little or no effect on how these foreign assets are treated by the sovereign authorities. Often, foreign laws will limit or negate any court orders or other legal strictures from the U.S. In addition, the U.S. court typically will not have in rem jurisdiction over the foreign property and can only enforce its orders by virtue of personal jurisdiction over one of the parties in the divorce action.
These are some common difficulties in dealing with assets held abroad with respect to divorce proceedings:
These issues can be problematic but are usually solvable with the proper resources and efforts. Hidden foreign assets are often located through forensic accounting of domestic bank and taxation records. Expert appraisers in the foreign jurisdiction may be found to prepare accurate valuations. Ownership transfers of foreign property can often be completed with the assistance of counsel in the region. Any party to a divorce case in which foreign assets are involved should seek the advice and counsel of an experienced international family law attorney.
Based in Miami, the Law Offices of Lawrence S. Katz, P.A. is one of South Florida’s premier international family law firms. Our practice focuses on international domestic relations and high net worth divorce cases. If you are involved in a divorce with an international financial component, feel free to contact us online or call 305-670-8656 for an initial consultation.
For many years, Lawrence S. Katz has helped clients in Florida, throughout the United States and abroad. He has earned an excellent worldwide reputation for providing knowledgeable, quality representation in family law matters.