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Resolving Family Law Disputes Between International Couples

When spouses come from different countries, divorce can take on international dimensions, whether the marriage took place on U.S. soil or abroad. Multiple issues can combine to complicate the divorce process, making it more time-consuming and expensive.

Immigration troubles can arise if one spouse’s legal status in the U.S. is based on the marriage and he or she wants to remain in the U.S. after the divorce. If the spouses have been married less than two years, lawful immigrant status is conditional until they prove that the marriage was not entered solely to obtain a green card. A divorce during the period of conditional status voids the green card. Even after a green card becomes unconditional, if the immigrant spouse cannot support himself or herself independently, they could face a real threat of having to leave the U.S.

Division of property can be another complex issue for international couples. Divorce courts in some U.S. states simply follow their own state law to divide all property, including assets abroad. In certain other states, if a couple moved to the state from Country X, the court will apply the law of that country to divide property the couple acquired before they moved. Then, the court will apply state law to property acquired after the move. Some state courts use a third approach, dividing all property according to the law of the nation in which it is located.

Child custody and relocation can become hotly contested when one parent wants to live in different country. A custody arrangement must comply with country-specific laws and with international treaties, such as the Hague Abduction Convention. A parent cannot simply take a child to another country without the other parent’s permission or a court order.

Child support and spousal support can also be complicated in international divorces. If the spouse who is obligated to pay support returns to their home country, then forcing them to pay can require taking special enforcement measures involving foreign authorities and relief under the 2007 Hague Maintenance Convention.

Another issue that may arise is the need to enforce a foreign divorce decree in the United States. Generally, U.S. courts will recognize a foreign divorce if the spouse who obtained it complied with the other country’s legal requirements and the other spouse was afforded due process of law. However, proving those elements of validity can be difficult and enforcing any financial aspects of that decree can require intensive efforts.

The Law Offices of Lawrence S. Katz in Miami concentrates its practice in international family law issues and is recognized as South Florida’s most experienced law firm in this field. To arrange a consultation, please 305-670-8656 or contact us online anytime.

Lawrence  S.  Katz Attorney Photo
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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