Divorce for International Couples

A bird may love a fish, but where will they live? And where will they divorce?

As more and more businesses look towards globalization, marriage has began to look more towards internationalization. It’s no longer uncommon for working individuals to travel to a foreign land and fall in love, and marry a foreign spouse. The international couple must decide where to live, where to love, and where to raise their children. And if that marriage sours, the international couple must also decide where to divorce.

International Divorce

In most cases, individuals often decide to return to their country of origin. Home offers familiarity, family, and friends during what can be a very difficult time. This move can also provide a much needed break that couples often feel they need: a chance to perhaps work things out, or the opportunity to get things in order. Often times this move is done prior to the formalization of the divorce, and takes the form of a “legal separation.” Legal separation is when a couple remains married, but live separately, and in this case, perhaps on even different continents.

International divorces can be more complex than standard divorces for many different reasons because they often involved citizenship issues and cases where only one spouse is the resident of the country the divorce is happening in. There can be immigration consequences or implications regarding citizenship. Jurisdiction becomes an issue, as well as the fact that national laws of at least two countries will be involved. This can become increasingly more difficult if the couple resided in other foreign countries during the time of their marriage.

There are a lot of potential things that can go wrong when an international couple seeks a divorce. No wonder that many couples decide to stay together for longer than either spouse would prefer. A divorce lawyer working with an international couple will need to take these complexities into consideration, while also becoming familiar with jurisdiction and foreign law in order to be prepared to help their client make the best choices possible.

Quick Overseas Divorce

With all the issues facing an international couple looking for divorce, it can feel as if this process would be impossible. But it’s not! There is a solution for international couples to divorce quickly and easily, in some places within hours or days at most. These divorces can be quick and swift, especially if the divorce is by mutual consent, and both spouses are able to come to agreement on aspects of their marriage such as child custody and visitation, alimony, and marital property division.

Some countries that offer quick divorces at minimal expense include Haiti (ideal for unilateral or one way divorces), the Dominican Republic, and Guam.

Issues Divorcing Couples Might Face

Managing a divorce across international borders can be stressful for a number of reasons. Here are some of the issues you might face when looking for a divorce under these terms.


The authority of a court to decide a particular type of case, in this case, divorce, is called “subject-matter jurisdiction.” It is set by the federal or state Constitution, or by state statutes. For a court to have subject-matter jurisdiction over a divorce action, at least one of the spouses must have lived in the county where the court is located for a certain period of time. Some states also require a spouse to have lived within the state and the county for a certain length of time.

This issue can be difficult for an international couple because it’s often difficult for those living abroad to meet the residency requirements a court requires for divorce proceedings to happen. Because of this, you may not be able to dissolve the marriage in a court in the country where you currently reside. And if you have been moving around a lot, you also might not be able to qualify for a divorce in your spouse’s country of residence.

Time and Expense of Travel

Traveling back and forth between countries during your divorce comes with additional time and money expenses. How often will you need to appear in a court thousands of miles away? You will need to manage and account for the costs associated with airfare, time off from work, and accommodations. The issue of taking time off can be especially difficult for those in the military.

Length of Time

At minimum, it takes six months for a divorce to become finalized. But that’s a minimum amount of time. For particularly litigious divorces, it can take a year to multiple years to finalize a divorce. In cases where a spouse is looking to start a new marriage or business in a new location, this timeline can be devastating, inconvenient, and frustrating.

Government Legal Systems

Because divorces are eventually worked out through a government legal system, a couple is subject to the laws of that legal system. The divorce and when and how that divorce will take place is all dictated by a system they have no control over. Even if both spouses are in agreement about their divorce and agree on child custody and visitation, marital property, and other aspects of their marriage, their ability to divorce is in the hands of courts and their governments’ legal systems.

Because of these issues, it makes sense that couples able to come to agreement on the aspects of their marriage would seek an offshore divorce where their marriage can be legally dissolved for an affordable fee and a short amount of time.

Off-Shore Divorce

More and more international couples are turning towards fast divorces in offshore countries. Here are the top reasons why a couple may opt for an offshore divorce:


Depending on the offshore country you choose (Dominican Republic, Guam, etc..), the process could take less than a day. In some places the divorce can be legal in less than two weeks.

No Complex Residency Requirements

A majority of countries that provide international offshore divorces have no residency requirements. Guam’s residency requirement is just 7 days.

Only One Spouse Needs to Appear

As long as the spouses are in agreement about the divorce, only one spouse needs to travel to and appear in court. The other spouse is able to grant power of attorney to a lawyer that will represent him or her in court. In places like the Unilateral divorce in Haiti, this requirement can be avoided.


Some law firms and other businesses that specialize in offshore divorce do charge substantial fees, but for most international divorces, a couple will pay approximately $2,000 to $5,000. This amount is minimal when compared to some that have been incurred as the result of drawn out and litigious processes. .

One-time Travel

When an international couple opts to divorce in one or the other’s country of residence, its not unlikely for one spouse to have to travel back to that country a lot. This can be costly, stressful, and time consuming. With an off-shore divorce, it’s a one-time trip to secure a divorce.


A law firm or other specialized business can handle virtually all of the details involved in an offshore divorce. That includes travel arrangements and lodging.

Child Custody and Financial Issues

It’s easier if a couple is able to come to an agreement about the aspects of their divorce, such as alimony, child visitation and custody, and marital property division. But you are still able to obtain an offshore divorce even if you and your spouse aren’t in agreement about these things.

Widespread Court Recognition

Offshore divorces are recognized in most jurisdictions if both spouses agree to the divorce.

Great Vacation

While you might not think of getting a divorce as a vacation, why not change your perspective a little bit? Many places that offer easy international offshore divorces are known to be great vacation spots, such as the Caribbean island of Hispaniola.

Confidentiality and Privacy

When you divorce offshore, none of your personal information is passed to various government agencies and the public. For particularly well-known international couples, this can be a great way to maintain confidentiality and privacy.

Working with a Divorce Attorney

If you are facing a divorce, you should work with a divorce attorney that will take a vested interest in your specific situation and advise you on what you might face in a divorce regarding property division, child support and custody, and alimony. They will be able to advise you on your options. A divorce attorney will provide support and guidance as you work towards ending your marriage.

For advice on divorce, you need the expert law firm of Law Offices of Korol & Velen, Certified Family Law Specialists.

Related Posts
  • Uptick in Gray Divorce Read More
  • Divorce and Mental Health: Self-Care Strategies for Coping with Emotional Stress Read More
  • How Cheating Can Impact Your Divorce in California Read More