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Living Overseas? Your Foreign Divorce May Not Be Valid in Indiana

On Behalf of | Sep 20, 2021 | Family Law

Living in a foreign country can present challenges with legal divorce papers, child custody orders, and parental visitation rights.

Foreign Divorces May Be Invalid

Although foreign divorces may be less expensive and easier to obtain, they often result in many problems. If a spouse is not considered “domiciled” in the country that granted the divorce, it will likely be considered invalid in the United States. In most cases, spouses must get a divorce in their state of residency within the U.S. for a divorce to be valid according to state laws.

In Indiana, the law requires one spouse to have legal residency within the state for a minimum of six months. Laws also require the spouse to reside in the county of filing for at least three months prior to filing for a divorce. Obtaining a divorce in Indiana requires specific filing documents, service of process, and financial disclosures.

Although individual circumstances may determine specific forms that are required, Indiana law requires four separate forms for a valid divorce: (1) Petition for Dissolution of Marriage, (2) Summons, (3) Financial Declaration, and (4) Child Support Obligation Worksheet (for minor children). An Indiana divorce lawyer can oversee the divorce process to ensure that all legal documents are filed correctly and on time with the court.

Typically, foreign divorce judgments are recognized in the United States on the basis of legal reciprocity, if both parties were given notice of the divorce proceeding and both parties were heard during the proceeding. Individual states may also look at the jurisdictional basis of the foreign divorce decree. If the state court is not satisfied that at least one party was domiciled in the U.S. at the time of the divorce, the court likely will not recognize the foreign divorce.

Prior to filing for divorce overseas, it is best to get advice from a divorce lawyer in the United States who can help with legal issues that may arise, as well as foreign laws concerning divorce. To validate a foreign divorce in the U.S., certified, authenticated, and/or translated copies of a foreign marriage and/or a foreign divorce decree may be required.

When a foreign divorce involves children, foreign laws may complicate child custody and parental rights issues. The United States is not a party to the Hague Convention on the Recognition of Divorces and Legal Separations enacted in 1970 which relates to orders for child support or child custody of children.