We Got Married in One Country, Live in Another Now and Want a Divorce.

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Where do I find a divorce lawyer (where we live now or where we got married)?
Many countries, including the United States, allow you to get a divorce there, even if your marriage occurred in another country. Laws can vary drastically between countries, so be sure that you consult with your attorney regarding the steps necessary to get a divorce and whether the divorce will be valid in the country where you are currently residing.

International Experience

While most issues related to a domestic divorce action are not any different than those related to an international divorce, you may find a less weary attorney by looking for one who has experience in international issues. Check websites for attorneys in your jurisdiction who offer family law services and see whether they have experience in international divorces or military divorces. Even if the prospective attorney does not have this specific experience, check if he or she has experience in other international matters, such as contract disputes or commercial matters.

Some of the same issues, such as notice requirements, may be the same even if the cause of action is different. You can also check websites for attorneys in the country where you were married. However, many U.S. states and countries mandate that at least one of the spouses be a resident of the jurisdiction for a certain period of time before they will allow you to get divorced there. Therefore, it may be easier for you to get divorced in your new country of residence than in that where you were actually married.


Comity is a legal term describing when one jurisdiction recognizes the judgments of another country. Additionally, the courts of the new jurisdiction also enforce the judgment of the former jurisdiction. If you want to be sure that your divorce action in one country will be recognized in another, make sure that the attorney you retain is familiar with comity between your current jurisdiction and former jurisdiction.

Validity of the Marriage

Before a lawyer should take your case in a divorce action, he or she will likely need to ensure that your marriage was valid in the country where you were married. For example, the country where you were married may prohibit individuals of certain ages from marrying or closely-related individuals from marrying. Likewise, certain legal requirements may be mandatory, such as a durational residency or the filing of particular paperwork.

A Note on Notice

Generally speaking, your spouse must be notified if you file for a divorce. A lawyer will need to have some method in which your spouse can receive this notice. Some states and countries allow for service of process through regular or certified mail. However, this is not the case in all situations. If your spouse lives in a different country than you, it may be more difficult for the attorney to provide this notice to your spouse. Be prepared for this legal complication and the additional expense of working with individuals in another country in order to provide valid service.

Same-Sex Marriage

If you are planning to get divorced in a state of the United States or a country that does not recognize same-sex marriage, there may be a law that prohibits the state or country from permitting a divorce action from being completed. The premise of this type of law is that same-sex marriage rights are not recognized for same-sex couples, so their legal relationship is not recognized in such a location. Therefore, the state or country may refuse to grant the divorce. If this situation describes your own, your only option may be to find an attorney in the foreign jurisdiction that can handle the divorce. Check with the bar association in your state or similar organization in your foreign jurisdiction to look for a lawyer who has experience in same-sex marriage rights if this situation applies to you.


Check with your local bar association or similar organization in your foreign country for referrals for a family lawyer. Make sure that the attorney is a licensed attorney who is in good standing. You can check on this information by checking with the licensing authority in your jurisdiction. You may also be able to receive referrals from acquaintances, colleagues or family members who have went through a similar process. Additionally, your local consulate may also be able to provide you with information on legal services available in the area.

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Disclaimer: While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication, it is not intended to provide legal advice as individual situations will differ and should be discussed with an expert and/or lawyer.

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