Divorce Abroad

Divorce is when one or both partners in a legal marriage seek the legal dissolution of that marriage.  An order of divorce is usually, but not always, issued by a court and legally terminates a marriage.  In many countries, it is typical, and sometimes required, that a divorce order resolves all issues arising out of the marriage, including parenting of minor children, financial support, and the division of property and liabilities. 

Will my U.S. divorce be recognized overseas?

Based on reciprocity, a judgment of divorce from a state court in the United States generally would be recognized in a foreign country that has a secular legal system. You may wish to consult an attorney in the foreign country to determine if your U.S. divorce decree would be recognized there. Most U.S. embassies and consulates have lists of lawyers on their websites that you may use as a resource to locate a lawyer in that country.

Will a foreign divorce be recognized in the United States?

  • A foreign judgment of divorce generally is recognized in a state in the United States on the basis of legal reciprocity where both parties had notice of the divorce proceeding and an opportunity to be heard within these proceedings. Marriage and divorce generally are considered matters reserved to the states rather than to the federal government.
  • Specific questions regarding the validity of foreign divorces in particular states in the United States should be referred to the office of the Attorney General of the state in question.  It may be necessary  to retain the services of a private attorney if the office of the state Attorney General does not provide such assistance to private citizens.

For further legal information about recognition of a divorce obtained abroad, go to the Department of State website at Divorce Abroad - Legal Issues.