Dual citizenship proves difficult in divorce

Divorce can be confusing enough. But add to the mix divorce when one spouse has dual citizenship, is living abroad or married to someone living in another country, and the entire process can become downright exhausting. This is due to the fact that different counties have different laws regarding divorce, which can end up affecting everything from child custody to property division.

Take for example one father. He was married to a woman with dual citizenship in the Dominican Republic. After their split, she took the couple’s two children back to her home country and now he is the awful situation of trying to fight for custody through a foreign court system.

Of course his case is an extreme example, but the issue of divorce when two countries are involved is one any dual citizen — or someone married to a spouse with dual citizenship — can relate to.

When it comes to even filing for divorce, it also doesn’t necessarily matter where a person was born, rather it matters where the residency is. This means that even if someone is an American, but he or she is living abroad, it can really throw a wrench into the whole system as the court where the person lives is the one with jurisdiction over the divorce.

This can be particularly troubling as some countries are easier to navigate when it comes to divorce. For example, laws in the United States and Europe are way easier than let’s say the Middle East where father’s rights are particularly strong. Additionally, if both spouses cannot come to an agreement on where to file, it comes down to who files first and where to determine jurisdiction.

This is why it’s important to speak with an attorney right from the very start if there is reason to believe a marriage is not going to work out. The attorney can then suggest what steps to take right away in order to try and protect rights.

Source: Reuters, “Divorce in two countries is double the trouble,” Geoff Williams, Oct. 24, 2012

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