Divorces involving dual citizenship pose big problems

Divorces that involve the laws of two different states can be very complicated. But the complications grow geometrically when a member of a divorcing couple is also a citizen of another country, or holds dual citizenship.

In such a case, it might not be clear which country has jurisdiction over the divorce. And if a foreign country has jurisdiction, the rules can change dramatically.

Every country takes a different approach to women’s rights, acceptable grounds for a divorce, alimony, distribution of property, child support and custody. And sad to say, in some countries, the legal system is fraught with corruption or extremely biased against foreigners.

Things can get very complicated if a dual citizen wants to raise the children in his or her homeland – or if he or she takes the children there for a visit, and then decides not to return.

Visa issues can also create problems. Suppose a husband has left the U.S. and allowed his visa to expire. The wife, still in America, wants a divorce, but the husband can no longer legally return to participate in the proceedings, and the wife may have to pursue matters on his home turf.

The bottom line is that if either you or your spouse is a dual citizen and divorce is even potentially looming on the horizon, it’s important to speak to a family law attorney as soon as possible. There may be preemptive steps that can be taken now to increase the likelihood that any future legal issues will be decided in a court where the law is favorable to you.