International Divorce

For those seeking an overseas divorce, willing to spend a few extra dollars, and perhaps make a short trip to a foreign land, a quickie overseas divorce may be the perfect solution. However, the most important consideration is whether the divorce will be recognized as valid in the United States. An international divorce is obtained when a spouse applies for a divorce in a country other than where he or she permanently resides. Many countries allow "mail order" divorce, where their citizens who are living abroad are allowed to file for divorce without either spouse being physically present in that country. This process is sometimes favored by people residing in the United States for employment and other reasons who are not citizens, as the process of filing for divorce in their home country is more familiar, and the legal fees significantly lower than filing for divorce in the United States.

New York State will only accept divorce decrees from foreign countries as long as certain requirements are met by the divorcing spouses - At least one of the spouses must have physically resided in the foreign jurisdiction during the divorce process. Simply visiting the country to deal with the divorce is enough. In Guam, which is a US territory, a divorce obtained there is recognized as valid without either party having to leave the continental United States. . Both spouses must receive adequate notice of the divorce, ie. legal papers. The Defendant spouse must submit to the jurisdiction of the foreign court, by either appearing in the foreign court or signing an Affidavit indicating permission to allow the foreign court to make decisions related to the divorce. Therefore, as long as these conditions are met, divorces obtained in countries such as the Dominican Republic, Mexico, Guam or Haiti will be recognized as valid in the United States. Mail Order divorces are generally not acceptable.

A DOMINICAN REPUBLIC divorce can be finalized within as little as 24 hours. The laws in the Dominican Republic waive requirements such as residency and waiting periods for foreign visitors who are in agreement and seek a mutual divorce. However, at least one of the parties must attend a hearing in divorce court in Santo Domingo, while the party who does not attend the hearing must sign a special power of attorney form. The spouse making the personal appearance in the Dominican court could arrive one day, remain overnight, and depart the next day after meeting other legal requirements. The Dominican Republic is located near the US Virgin Islands, a short flight from Miami, FL. However, not all states recognize a divorce granted in the Dominican Republic. New York is one of the few states to recognize a Dominican divorce as valid. Most states, including California, consider such divorces to be invalid unless the parties first establish residency in the Dominican Republic. If requested, our law office can successfully process a Dominican divorce application from start to finish.

A HAITIAN divorce is not as popular as in previous years, as courts there require that at least one party appear in court, and it is now considered too dangerous to travel to Haiti due to civil unrest. Also,even if the divorce is mutual,it is not recognized as valid in many states.

Similarly, MEXICO used to be popular destination for granting expedited divorces, however it is now a poor option for people seeking a quick dissolution of their marital ties due to prohibitive and complex residency requirements.

A GUAM divorce is the best choice if a spouse wants to obtain an international divorce without leaving American soil, and have the divorce recognized in the United States, since Guam is a territory of the United States located in the western Pacific ocean and falls under United States jurisdiction. Therefore, the divorce will be recognized as valid in any of the fifty states. Both parties merely sign a simple "consent to jurisdiction" form and obtain a quick and easy divorce without overseas travel. A court hearing date is scheduled for approximately four to five weeks after filing the papers. Neither party is required to attend this hearing, and the divorce will normally be granted at the time of the hearing. For an additional fee, our office can obtain a divorce in as little as a few days. In addition,a divorce decree can be granted as to marital status only, permitting the parties to iron out financial, property and other issues later in another court. Guam has a 90 day residency requirement, but Guam law does not require residency to be pleaded or proved, and the court is not required to make any findings regarding residency. This loophole allows a significant number of US. residents to obtain Guam divorces each year without the need to step off American soil. Alternatively,a married couple may avail of the "Guam 7-Day Residency Divorce" who resides in the United States and who wish to use the Guam court system to obtain a United States divorce. Under Guam law,, if both non-resident spouses consent to divorce on Guam, agree to the terms of the divorce, and if one spouse comes to Guam for a minimum stay of seven consecutive days and nights, they can obtain their divorce on the island. Our law office partners with a Guam based attorney to process divorce applications on the island for US residents.

These options should be considered only if both parties are in agreement and the divorce will be bilateral or mutual. The US Supreme Court has ruled that all unilateral foreign divorces, where only one party signs the paperwork, and invalid in the United States.