When a divorce crosses international lines, the laws and procedures that we tend to take for granted in a local divorce case suddenly become much more uncertain. The international issues add layers of complexity that make it difficult to accomplish your goals. To protect yourself and your family, it is wise to work with a legal team experienced in handling international divorce issues.

West Family Group has the knowledge and connections to help clients achieve their objectives in international divorce and custody cases. We understand the many different facets of an international divorce and how to develop a strategy to overcome obstacles.

From Richard's interview for the Masters of Family Law series on ReelLawyers.com.

Taking the Right Strategic Approach

Before making critical decisions, you need to be fully aware of the ramifications so you can determine the right choice to achieve your ultimate objectives. That means you should start by assessing your goals and the goals of your spouse to see where potential conflicts will arise and where you have room to compromise in negotiation. While you need to keep yourself safe, try to avoid taking sudden actions that could trigger an extreme legal or emotional response.

Consider your assets, including the location and your ability to access those assets. Remember that property that would be considered jointly owned marital property under Florida law could be separate property under the laws of another country.

If you have children, custody and child support issues will be enormously complex. The Hague Convention and other international treaties provide procedures that can help with enforcement, but your attorney needs to understand how to use the opportunities to your advantage.

Choosing a Jurisdiction

If you are in Florida but your spouse is currently located outside the U.S. with no connection to the state, Florida can grant a divorce and probably divide marital property located in the state. However, courts in the state will not have jurisdiction over international property or the spouse who is out of the country. It may make sense to take action in another jurisdiction instead of actions in Florida.

When other jurisdictions could potentially be used, you need to consider issues such as:

  • How assets are divided under local laws
  • Grounds available for divorce
  • Spousal maintenance standards      
  • Philosophy of the local courts
  • The difficulty of enforcement
  • Treatment premarital assets, trusts, and gifted property        
  • Rules regarding child custody and support

If you have a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement, you also need to consider how the laws of that jurisdiction treat the terms of those agreements.

Work with an Attorney with International Experience and Connections

When your divorce has international components, you give yourself a better chance of success if you work with an attorney who is a Fellow in the International Academy of Family Lawyers. All members of this worldwide organization have considerable experience handling family law issues that cross international borders.

In addition, members have connections with family lawyers in most countries around the world. That means those Academy colleagues can assist when you need to find documents, obtain court orders, conduct discovery, take depositions and complete other legal missions in another country. These tasks can be difficult if not impossible for attorneys in the U.S. without those connections.  

West Family Law Group Protects You in International Divorce

Divorce is hard, and dealing with international laws makes it exponentially more difficult. Having an ally who understands the challenges and is prepared to help you overcome those challenges makes the process much more manageable.

As an experienced Fellow of the International Academy of Family Lawyers, Richard West leads a team that regularly helps clients achieve their goals in international divorce and custody cases. To find out more about the ways we can assist in your situation, we invite you to contact us to schedule a confidential consultation.

International Divorce and Family Law Unique Challenges

  • factors that determine appropriate jurisdiction
  • property division
  • establishing validity of a divorce obtained in another country
  • international relocation of children
  • international child custody
  • enforcement of child custody abroad
  • enforcement of property division and spousal support abroad