Foreign Divorce

In New York, in order for foreign divorce decrees to be recognized, the spouses must meet certain conditions -

Both spouses must have received adequate notice, ie served with legal papers.

At least one of the spouses must have physically resided in the foreign country during the divorce process. Generally, where both parties participate in divorce proceedings in another country, but neither obtains domicile there, courts consider a divorce obtained in such circumstances to be invalid. This type of divorce is referred to as a "mail order" divorce, which is legal in many countries, but is not recognized by state courts in the US and the US immigration authorities.

The Defendant spouse, ie. the spouse not seeking the divorce acknowledges the foreign country's jurisdiction, by signing a consent Affidavit acknowledging service or through an attorney.

Questions regarding the validity of foreign divorces should be referred to the office of the attorney general in New York.

Once these requirements are met, a foreign divorce decree is generally recognized by a state in the US. on the basis of comity, ie. the mutual recognition by nations of the laws and customs of other nations. A divorce obtained in another country receives "full faith and credit"in the US and other countries that recognize divorce.

A certified copy of the foreign divorce decree, along with a certified English translation, authenticating it for use in the United States, must be submitted by either party in order to have the divorce decree validated in the US.. Once a New York court recognizes the foreign divorce decree, either spouse can then seek post-judgment financial relief and property distribution.