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Unique Challenges of International Divorce

Unwinding a marriage means separating finances and working out parental time-sharing arrangements if children are involved. All of these are difficult enough on their own, but things can really get complicated when the divorce proceedings are international in scope.

International divorces are those in which one of the spouses is a citizen of another country, the marriage occurred abroad, either spouse owns property overseas or there are treaties or foreign laws that might affect parental rights. Such divorces raise unique issues that you need to be aware of, among them:

  • Jurisdiction — A court in Florida or abroad must have the authority to hear the case based on the subject matter and the power to bind the people involved in the case with its ruling. Other countries may have vastly different criteria for determining jurisdiction over individual parties and the subject matter. Also, more than one court may have jurisdiction, which can result in a race between the spouses to select the venue they consider more desirable.
  • Choice of law — Even if a court has jurisdiction to hear the case, it may be bound to apply the laws of another country. In the European Union, for example, many courts take a cooperative approach, using the law of the country where both spouses last resided.
  • Division of assets — Laws regarding division of marital property vary widely. While Florida takes an equitable distribution approach, another country might have special rules for property ownership. Even when a Florida court with jurisdiction issues an order dividing assets, it can be difficult to enforce in another country due to the tax laws and methods of valuation that apply. Also, some nations, like the United Kingdom, do not recognize prenuptial agreements, which means property covered by a prenup may be exempt from division in that country.
  • Child custody — Another layer of complexity concerns child custody and visitation, which in Florida is known as parental time-sharing. If a parent takes a child across borders in violation of a Florida time-sharing order, the Hague Convention may apply. This treaty allows parents to seek the child’s return to the United States so long as the country where the child is held is also a signatory. There also U.S. laws that protect parental rights, such as the Uniform Child Custody and Jurisdiction Act.

The lesson to be drawn is that international divorce involves a complex mix of different countries’ courts and laws. It is vital to have an experienced international family lawyer who can fully analyze your case and advise you on the best course of action in your circumstances. You also need a law firm with sufficient resources to take all steps required to enforce your rights both at home and overseas.

The Law Offices of Lawrence S. Katz, P.A. provides compassionate representation in contested family law matters for clients in South Florida, including Aventura, Coral Gables, Pinecrest, Bal Harbor, Key Biscayne and Coconut Grove. Contact us today at 305-670-8656 or online to schedule a consultation. Se habla español.

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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