Divorce itself, in the best of circumstances, is already a complicated and complex process. When you add in an issue of citizenship and/or living in another country – the process gets even more complex. Decisions regarding topics such as asset division, jurisdiction, child relocation and more can be much more difficult to navigate and resolve when one of the parties lives in or is a citizen of another country. Questions such as the follow can arise:
- What country will the kids live in?
- How will we ensure their return from parenting time spent in the other country?
- How can you locate assets subject to division that are outside of the country?
- How can you enforce court orders, ie. for division of assets, child custody, or payment of child or spousal support, in another country?
One source to look at in answering some of these questions is the applicable provisions and treaties of the Hague Convention. The Hague Convention is a series of international agreements and treaties reached during diplomatic conferences over the last century at the Hague, Netherlands. The Convention includes agreements on international service of process, international child abduction and return, choice of law, and international enforcement of child support and spousal maintenance. It is important to note however that NOT every country has signed off on all of the agreements listed in the Hague Convention, so it is important to determine if there is a Hague Convention agreement or provision applicable to the issue at hand and then whether the country or countries that you are dealing with have actually signed off and agreed to implement the Hague Convention as to that issue. For example, the United States is a signer as to the Hague Convention as to the child abduction and return agreements, but India is not. So, if one of the parents is an India national, the Court and the non-Indian may have legitimate concerns what legal mechanism exists to ensure the return of the child if allowed to visit the other parent in India since the Hague Convention is not applicable.
Not understanding the specific complexities involved in divorce proceedings that involve different countries or citizens of different countries can have significant and devastating effects post-divorce on your ability to actually enforce orders, ensure your continued contact and access to your children, and actual payment of monies awarded to you in the divorce whether in the form of continuing support payments or as equalization for certain assets.
If you find yourself or a loved one facing a divorce involving out of state or international issues and need the advice and counsel of an experienced attorney, please call OWENS & PERKINS at480.630.2464 to schedule your free 30 minute consultation.