Can I get a divorce even if my spouse lives in another country?

The Law Office of Bryan Fagan has a former client’s story to present to you all today that is related to a subject that is probably more relevant in today’s world than ever before. This gentleman married a woman who is Colombian in a ceremony here in the United States but eventually moved to Colombia and started a life together there.

The couple did not have any children but did buy a home together and live the sort of life many married persons do, complete with intermingling all of their personal property and buying a great of goods together.

The next thing our client knew was that he was in America visiting his family here when he received word from his wife that she was leaving him and filing for divorce in Colombia. When a bombshell like that is dropped on you how can you proceed?

What are the recommended steps to take if you want to get a divorce in the United States? Does the divorce proceed along the same lines as a divorce where both parties live in Texas? While our state laws do not differentiate between these two situations, in practice there are some differences that we can discuss in this blog post.

So you’re trying to divorce a person who’s not living in the United States

Divorce is not easy, logistically, emotional or in any other way. Deciding that you want to go through with the divorce, saving up to hire an attorney and then actually attempting to execute the plans of a divorce are no small undertaking for you.

What happens when your spouse lives in another country and you need to make them aware of the fact that you have filed for divorce in the United States?

Negotiate and then settle- but first, waive service

Ultimately, if you are in contact with your spouse and he or she agrees to the divorce this would stand as the best case scenario for you. First of all, it eliminates the need to properly serve him or her with legal paperwork sufficient for a Texas court to have found that service and notice of the lawsuit have been accomplished. This is done trough your spouse waiving their right to be served with the divorce petition and any other document filed along with the petition.

This process involves sending an affidavit to your spouse living abroad in which the spouse acknowledges that he or she have received the divorce petition and are waiving their right to be served by a process server or other legal method.

This does not mean that your spouse is waiving all rights to be contacted by the court or to be made aware of any future court dates. It just means that he or she understands what is going on and that he or she is asserted that despite their knowledge it is their intent to not be served personally with the divorce papers.

The affidavit is notarized at an embassy or consulate in the foreign country in which he or she resides and then the paperwork can be mailed back to you for filing with the court in Texas.

At this stage you and your spouse are able to negotiate amongst one another to determine how to split up the marital estate and how to set forth each person’s rights and duties to the children (if any) along with possession, access, support and visitation of them (if the divorcing spouses are parents). Who among us wouldn’t want to avoid the time and money involved with a lengthy divorce? Unfortunately this option is rarely in play for spouses who find themselves in an international divorce situation.

When formal service is necessary, look to the Hague on how to proceed

Most of the countries on earth have agreed to be bound by the terms of the Hague Convention on Service. For those of you (myself included) who are not aware of/interested in international politics, just understand that this agreement allows you to serve someone in France the same way you would be able to serve someone in Mexico or Canada.

If you think it’s hard to get your family to agree on a place to go eat dinner, imagine trying to negotiate the terms of this agreement between countries whose interests and histories are sometimes completely different or at worst are completely antagonistic. This document contains the rules of international service that all member nations have agreed to.

For now, I will say that this means mailing certified (and translated) copies of the documents you’ve filed in Texas divorce court along with other documents as well to a specific address in the foreign country in which your spouse resides. Each nation has a specific means by which they process these requests for service. Once service has been accomplished a proof of service certificate will be mailed back to you in the United States so that you may file it with your court.

Methods of last resort: service by registered mail and publication

As with a divorce where your spouse resides in Texas, or at least the United States, if you are not able to serve your spouse properly and have shown your judge that you have exercised due diligence in attempting to do so you may be able to have him or her served by registered mail or publication. Neither of these options are particularly good ones to undertake, however.

The key reason, in my opinion, is that if your spouse becomes aware of a divorce here in the United States that was effectuated by means of a service by registered mail or publication he or she may be able to overturn the divorce with greater ease than if you serve them personally via the Hague Convention method. This alone should give you pause before proceeding with an international divorce.

Questions on an International Divorce? Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan

As with many divorces, being able to properly serve your spouse can eliminate a lot of the issues and complications inherent in this process. If you find yourself needing to give notice to your spouse of a divorce filing in Texas when he or she lives abroad I would highly recommend that you contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan to assist you with this and your divorce in general. Our office has handled divorce cases like this and am confident our attorneys and staff could do the same for you. A free of charge consultation with one of our licensed family law attorneys is only a phone call away.

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Other Articles you may be interested in:

  1. The Effect of Divorcing a United States Citizen While a Non-U.S. Citizen
  2. I am Not a United States Citizen and Live in Spring, Texas Can I file for Divorce?
  3. How to Divorce Your Spouse in Texas When Their Whereabouts are Unknown
  4. The Dirty Trick of Filing for Divorce in Another City
  5. The Dirty Trick of Moving Out of State with the Kids
  6. Should I move out of the marital home during a divorce?
  7. Do I have to move out of the marital home during a divorce in Spring, Texas?
  8. Children's Passports and International Travel after Texas Divorce
  9. Can a Parent remove My Child from the state of Texas or from the County or Country where I am living?
  10. Geographic Restrictions in Child Visitation Orders in Texas

Law Office of Bryan Fagan | Spring Divorce Lawyer

The Law Office of Bryan Fagan routinely handles matters that affect children and families. If you have questions regarding divorce, it's important to speak with a Spring, TX Divorce Lawyer right away to protect your rights.

A divorce lawyer in Spring TX is skilled at listening to your goals during this trying process and developing a strategy to meet those goals. Contact Law Office of Bryan Fagan by calling (281) 810-9760 or submit your contact information in our online form. The Law Office of Bryan Fagan handles Divorce cases in Spring, Texas, Cypress, Spring, Klein, Humble, Kingwood, Tomball, The Woodlands, Houston, the FM 1960 area, or surrounding areas, including Harris County, Montgomery County, Liberty County, Chambers County, Galveston County, Brazoria County, Fort Bend County and Waller County.

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Spring Divorce Attorney
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