International Divorce 101: Part 1

There is no such thing as an easy divorce, but some separations are especially complicated. When couples dissolve their marriages while living in different countries, they face unique difficulties and often a frustratingly extended timeline. Keep reading to learn more about the many challenges related to international divorce:

Why Do People Pursue International Divorce?

Absence supposedly makes the heart grow fonder, but in reality, most couples find it exceedingly difficult to maintain strong relationships while living apart. It’s tough enough for those in different cities or states, but add in an international complication, and it’s easy to see why so many extremely long distance marriages fail.

Although some people choose not to divorce until their spouses return to the United States, this strategy can make for a very long wait. For example, a spouse may be deployed with the military for well over a year, or stationed with the Peace Corps for even longer. Those who desire divorce are rarely willing to put their lives on hold for that long, simply so they can deliver the news in person.

In other cases, divorce is merely a response to long-term abandonment. If a spouse leaves the country and fails to communicate his or her departure, the abandoned individual may eventually possess grounds for divorce.

When Is International Divorce Best Avoided?

Unfortunately, divorcing across borders can be as complicated as maintaining a marriage while thousands of miles apart. Delays are an inevitable aspect of the process, in part because the divorce papers’ intended recipient must be located. This can be shockingly difficult when deployed military members are involved, or when the person living abroad resides in a remote location. In such cases, it may be better to wait until the other spouse returns to the United States.

Common Types of International Divorce

International dissolution can vary radically based on where the spouses currently reside, why they live apart, whether there are grounds for divorce (such as abandonment or desertion), and whether one of the spouses is presently deployed in military service. Despite these and other factors, a few clear patterns tend to emerge with international separations.

  • In a bilateral divorce, both spouses are present in the nation of divorce, or one isn’t, but is represented by a local divorce attorney.
  • In an ex parte divorce, one spouse resides in the home country, and the other is formally notified of the dissolution while living abroad.
  • A divorce can be deemed void if one spouse attempts to obtain it without notifying the other.

The experienced Maryland family law attorneys at DiPietro & Wise, LLC can help you every step of the way with your international divorce. Call us to schedule a confidential consultation about your strategic options.

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