Family law in the international context can be a very complex matter. The varying laws from jurisdiction to jurisdiction form obstacles for clients seeking divorce from spouses outside of the United States, including the establishment of personal jurisdiction, division of marital property, and the myriad international treaties dictating the comity requirements between countries. Matters become even more complex if children are involved, as well as when one spouse is in a country which does not have a treaty agreement with the United States. The imposition of religion in the laws of many countries can further complicate matters.
Passports can be critical, especially when children are involved and there is risk of abduction. Clients whose children have passports should act quickly to secure the originals in a safe place, or at the least obtain copies, in case one spouse is threatening or is at risk of leaving the country with the children. Court injunctions and orders may be required to prevent the movement of assets and children, and you may need to seek temporary custody of the children.
Registration of a pending divorce can be very complicated, as many treaties dictate the registration process. Registration is necessary to have the divorce recognized in the other country, as well as for purposes of dividing marital assets. If the country you are dealing with is not a signatory to any governing treaty with the United States, then you must hire counsel in other countries to assist in your case. Fortunately, international organizations composed of attorneys working together help facilitate a smoother process than you would encounter were you to decide to pursue the matter on your own.
Hague Convention Treaties
The international body of law that governs divorce, children, assets, and judgments are the treaties that are worked on at the Hague Convention. The Hague Service Convention is the premier international body working to develop a unified system for execution of private international law. It is important to know whether the country you are dealing with is a signatory to the Convention.
Complex Marital Property
Multinational families that have lived in different countries may have assets located abroad. It is important to attach this property to ensure an equitable division of the marital assets. There may be off shore trust or bank accounts, as well as real and personal property located in other
countries. Injunctions may need to be issued in order to prevent the movement or transference of assets, and it is important for you to seek assistance in ensuring that the proper process is followed.
Child abduction can be a very serious and complex issue. The importance of obtaining original passports or copies is paramount. If your spouse is threatening to leave the county with your children, it is imperative that you seek an injunction preventing their travel, or possibly even
temporary custody. There is also law in the United States making it a crime to abduct children and take them abroad, but it is important to know whether the country you are dealing with has an extradition treaty with the United States. Having an experienced International Law attorney is crucial to protecting your interests.