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Dealing With Overseas Assets During a Divorce

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:

  • Locating assets — Some people deliberately conceal wealth from their spouses by way of foreign accounts or in LLCs. When one spouse refuses to divulge the existence of a foreign holding, the assets can be very difficult to locate.
  • Valuation of assets — Most marital assets will be divided between the divorcing spouses. To accomplish this, the property must be properly valued. This requires finding credible appraisers abroad with experience in valuing assets in U.S. divorce cases.
  • Division of assets — Enforcing an order of distribution from an American court can be challenging, given that typically the judgment is unenforceable. In some cases, the court order may be in conflict with the laws of the foreign jurisdiction. Divorce counsel often will be required to take one or more additional legal steps with the sovereign authorities to allow the distribution of the assets.

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.

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Lawrence S. Katz

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.

Client Reviews
  • "Attorney Katz has a keen sense for understanding the overall situation and immediately formulating an action plan. He is direct, succinct and effective. I highly recommend Attorney Katz for his experience, integrity and results!" - Vivian

  • "Mr. Katz is the best divorce lawyer in the Miami area. Very knowledgeable and experienced. We had a difficult case and he delivered impressive result. His assistant Fanny it is a great asset to that office as well." - Georgette

  • "My case was a complex one and Mr. Katz provided me with a course of action that led to a favorable outcome. He is clearly knowledgeable and experienced but he is also very prompt. He is always available to answer questions via email, Skype or phone. As an overseas client this was very important to me. I would definitely recommend Mr. Katz especially for international divorce and custody cases." - Anonymous

  • "I am extremely grateful to have had Larry represent me. In International Family Law I would say he has few, if any, equals." - Anonymous

  • "This divorce lawyer is excellent, charismatic, professional, and cares about the customer. I gave a case to him that it was impossible to solve, and he did solved the problem like it was very simple. He was always in touch and answering all my questions, either by phone or by email." - Manjit

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