Divorces involving spouses in foreign countries often complicated

On behalf of The Walters Law Group, Ltd. posted in Child Custody on Wednesday, October 31, 2012.

Most Chicago area residents who have been through a divorce with a spouse residing in the area would agree that it is rarely an easy venture. Imagine then, just how complicated things can be when one of the spouses is a citizen of, and lives in, another country. When the marriage has not produced any children, the split is usually fairly straightforward. When children are involved however, by far, the most contentious issue for couples finding themselves in this position is child custody.

The first question a party to a failed marriage may have is just where to file for divorce. The reality is it is all dependent on where one lives. Depending on the circumstances, this can be either good of bad news. Mothers who are seeking to divorce their husbands and have custody of the children will likely not fare well in areas such as North Africa or the Middle East. This is because men’s rights are usually deemed to be more important than women’s. In many other parts of the world however, rights are more evenly divided. When each spouse is in a different country, the first to file determines the jurisdiction under which the action will proceed.

In the worst child custody battles, parents have been known to kidnap their own child. While this happens in divorces in which both parents reside in the Unites States, when one parent is able to flee with the child to another country of which he or she is a resident, it can be very difficult to get that child back. In many such instances the Hague Conference on Private International Law helps the process of divorcing much easier to navigate. Unfortunately, not all countries take part. Currently approximately 75 countries are signatories.

Because of the complexity of these divorce situations involving citizenships in multiple countries, it is usually in the best interest of all parties involved to seek legal counsel.

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

  • Our firm handles similar situations to the one discussed in this post. For more information on these types of claims, please visit our Chicago child custody page.