April 27, 2021
In the United States, family law is handled at the state level, with each state having its own nuances when it comes to residency, divorce, grounds, and child custody. This can be complicated enough, but it becomes even more complex when a couple is navigating an international divorce. To the mix of state jurisdictions, international divorce will add another country’s jurisdiction,with its own set of unique family laws.
Even though we live in an ever-increasing global society, family law remains very local and often parochial, intermixed with cultural norms and history. While some areas of the world have attempted to standardize family laws to some extent, each country has the right to exact them as they see fit for their society.
Choosing the Right Jurisdiction For Your Divorce
Because divorce laws vary significantly by jurisdiction, they will impact major decisions such as whether to move back to a home residence or remain in a foreign country. The jurisdiction where the divorce is filed will affect child custody, parental rights, and property ownership. While some individuals find our laws in the United States more accessible and beneficial for their circumstances, others will find that filing in another country offers them better options.
Navigating international divorce requires that an individual considers the pros and cons of which jurisdiction is most appropriate for the situation. While most family lawyers’ focus is their own jurisdiction and those of the United States, international family lawyers must be familiar with global family laws and researching, understanding, and comparing the laws to evaluate their impact on their client.
How Different Are Divorce Laws? In Some Jurisdictions…VERY
While divorce has its origins in ancient Rome, for many places throughout the world, divorce is a comparatively recent phenomenon and still mired in challenging laws. While in the United States, we have generally always had the right to divorce, some countries significantly limit it.
● In the Philippines, unless you are of the Islamic faith, divorce just recently became legal and remains culturally divisive. Although annulments have been allowed, they are cost prohibitive and allowed only after a significant separation.
● In Chile, divorce only became legal in 2004 and the process is still difficult. It requires a separation of a year if both parties agree to the divorce and three years if one party doesn’t agree, unless there is proof of abuse, abandonment,infidelity, homosexuality, drug addiction, prostitution, or other criminal acitivity.
● In Japan, divorce itself is relatively easy but there are no laws providing for joint custody. Although child support is awarded, children are only required to live with and see one parent. Remarriage can be limited for women. If there is a pregnancy involved, the woman must wait 100 days after ending her marriage in order to marry again. This was implemented to “avoid uncertainty” as to the presumed father of the child. There is no such waiting period for the man, however.
● In India, as is the case with many other personal matters of civil law, there are different divorce laws for different religions, with separate laws dictating inter-religion marriages and divorces.
● In Saudi Arabia, a woman must be notified by text message of any divorce ruling.This was implemented to combat a practice allowing men to divorce their wives without their knowledge.
Because of the differences in laws from one country to another, an international divorce will present some of its own distinctive challenges, including property division, relocating children across borders, custody laws, or court order enforcement for parenting,alimony, property division, or other issues that may arise.
Getting the Advice of an International Divorce Attorney
When you are navigating an international divorce, it’s critical to get the assistance of an attorney who understands international divorce laws and can help you make the best decisions for yourself and your family. Contact the skilled international attorneys at Bukh Global to discuss your options.