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What you need to think about before filing for divorce when your spouse lives outside the U.S.A.

I don’t think you could find anyone who would try to argue that filing for divorce is a pleasant process. While every step makes sense in its own way that doesn’t mean that there aren’t some things that can frustrate even the most patient person. After having represented many people in divorce cases across Texas I can tell you that most of those folks have great intentions but are not thinking all that clearly during their case due to stress, anxiety and a mix of perfectly understandable emotions.

The tough part about a divorce is that the mistakes that you are capable of making within the case may not have any ramifications of effects on your life until years later. Many issues surrounding divorce are made to be more complex when your marriage was conducted outside the U.S.A. or your spouse lives outside of the country. In today’s blog post from the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC we will discuss what issues are most important when it comes to an international divorce.

What makes a divorce international in nature?

You may be asking yourself what exactly constitutes an international divorce. In a state like Texas where many of us were born or at least once resided outside the State or country there are a lot of people whose cases may fairly be termed as an international divorce. Let’s first establish what an international divorce is.

An international divorce involves persons who were marred in another country, own property outside of the United States, have adopted a child not born in the United States during the course of your marriage or were simply married in a foreign country. If your marriage or family life meets one of these qualifications then your divorce may involve international issues.

What this means on a practical level is that not only will the laws of Texas be relevant to your divorce but the laws of another country may also come into play. It is not a given that our laws are the same or even similar to the laws of the other country. In many instances those laws may differ a great deal. When you are having to deal with the sort of complex issues that your divorce will likely represent it is wise to have a representative (like those with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC) who have helped other people find solutions for themselves in situations like the one you are facing.

What do you need to do when you file for an international divorce in Texas

The tough part about having to file an international divorce is that the laws in Texas may not even allow you to file in our state. To be fair these laws apply equally to persons whose divorces could be qualified as international or domestic but they absolutely bear mentioning here.

For starters, you and/or your spouse must have resided within the state of Texas for at least the past six months and the county where your divorce will be filed for at least the previous ninety days. How can you establish residency for these purposes if you are ever called to do so? Household bills like a utility state would seem to do the trick in most situations. Payroll receipts from a job work well also as frequently as people work from home these days it may not be as proof positive as in previous years. Overall, you will want to collect documents that can potentially be used as evidence to establish residence before you move forward with your international divorce.

Once you meet the jurisdictional requirements of Texas you then need to concern yourself with the various jurisdictional requirements that are in place in whatever country’s laws will come into play for your particular divorce. We don’t have the space to list out the particular jurisdictional requirements from every country around the world but suffice it to say that you need to know what they are before actually filing for divorce. Google can be an effective tool in many applications of our lives but I do not recommend merely “Googling” the divorce laws of Mexico or Canada and then moving forward with a divorce. It is best to have an attorney by your side who can conduct research that is more detailed and based on knowledge that you likely do not possess.

What can be done if your spouse does not live in the U.S.A.

In some situations you spouse may be living outside the United States. It is not out of the question that a Texas court can take jurisdiction over the case and therefore have the case here right here in the Lone Star State. The best way that I can think of to have Texas take jurisdiction over your case would be to have your spouse served with divorce papers while here in the country.

From personal experience, I can tell you about an instance where personal service of divorce papers probably would have worked much better than having to serve someone internationally.

Our office had one case in recent years where we represented a man who met a woman on the internet and eventually married her in Texas. They then moved to her home country, Colombia, and started a life there together. They built a house and lived together as husband and wife for many years.

Our client ran into some health problems that required that he return home to Texas for surgery. His wife and he flew back to Texas and went to a local hospital where he had a procedure. When he woke up from the surgery our client came to find out that his wife had essentially dropped him off at the hospital and left immediately afterwards. She had returned to their home in Colombia without him. Our client had family that he could lean on for assistance in Texas but his property and his wife were in Colombia. What could he do?

He came into our office where we advised him of the jurisdictional requirements to actually file for divorce in Texas. Surprisingly, he had waited months to speak to an attorney about filing for divorce in Texas so he had just about lived here long enough to establish residency for divorce purposes. Remember, even though they were married in Texas that didn’t automatically qualify him to be able to file for divorce here upon his return to the United States. He would still need to be a resident of Texas in order to file for divorce in Texas.

Next up, we had two practical considerations to deal with. First of all, his property was pretty much completely in Colombia. It is unlikely that a Texas judge would implement any orders that would affect that property due to those orders have little to no weight in a Colombian court. We had to unfortunately inform our client that while we could help him get divorced in Texas, it would likely have no effect on his Colombian property or whether or not his spouse would file for divorce from him in Colombia.

The final issue, which proved to be most difficult, was actually getting his wife served with divorce papers so she could be notified of the proceedings in the United States. Our client could not convince his wife to return to the United States so that we could serve her personally. The alternative was that we would need to serve her via the United Nations’ method for serving a person internationally. While it was not impossible it was difficult, took a great deal of time and cost more than serving a person domestically.

Divorce is complex and international divorce is more complex

After reading today’s blog post if you have any questions about the material that we covered please do not hesitate to contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC. I understand that you may have specific questions about your circumstances that you need to have answered. We offer free of charge consultations six days a week where we can answer those questions and address your concerns in comfortable and pressure free environment. Our attorneys practice only in family law and serve clients just like you from across southeast Texas.

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Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC | Houston, Texas Divorce Lawyers

The Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC routinely handles matters that affect children and families. If you have questions regarding Divorce, it's important to speak with one of our Houston, TX Child Divorce Lawyers right away to protect your rights.

Our Divorce lawyers in Spring TX are skilled at listening to your goals during this trying process and developing a strategy to meet those goals. Contact Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC by calling (281) 810-9760 or submit your contact information in our online form. The Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC handles Divorce cases in Houston, Texas, Cypress, Klein, Humble, Kingwood, Tomball, The Woodlands, 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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