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international divorce

Laws regarding marriage and divorce vary from state to state and from country to country. When residents of the United States get married in another country, or when a resident of the United States marries a resident of another country, and the married persons then seek a divorce, the potential application of significantly different laws can make the process more difficult and complex. And this is especially true when the spouses separate and live in different countries before seeking a divorce—sometimes taking or keeping the spouses’ children with them.

There are generally no international divorce laws—only the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction (an international treaty on the wrongful removal or retention of children)—but divorces in which more than one country’s laws may apply are informally referred to as international divorces.

There may also be differences in the laws of different countries regarding what constitutes a marriage—resulting in a situation when two persons are married under the laws of one country, but not under the laws of another country.

A person in such an international marriage or domestic partnership who believes the relationship may be coming to an end should consult with a family law specialist at the earliest opportunity.

In Texas, as in other states, the laws governing marriage and divorce are subject to state statutes. When it comes to international marriages and divorces, the complexity increases due to the potential application of different legal systems. Texas courts generally recognize marriages legally performed in other countries, provided they do not violate Texas's public policy. For divorces, at least one spouse must meet the residency requirements to file in Texas, typically living in the state for a minimum of six months. If spouses live in different countries, jurisdictional issues can arise, and the case may involve applying foreign law or international treaties, such as the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, which addresses international child abduction scenarios. This treaty aims to protect children from wrongful removal or retention across international borders by providing a legal framework for their prompt return. However, there is no equivalent international treaty for divorce itself. Given the complexities of international marriage and divorce, including potential child custody disputes, property division, and recognition of marriage validity, it is crucial for individuals to seek advice from an attorney who specializes in family law and has experience with international legal issues.

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