Comity & Foreign Divorce

Comity & Foreign Divorce

An interesting aspect of foreign divorces is that foreign divorces are not per se recognized in the United States. To say this another way, if you obtain a divorce from your spouse in another country outside of the United States, the United States will not automatically recognize that divorce as being applicable in the United States without additional evidence. With additional evidence concerning the foreign divorce, a US state like South Carolina may recognize the divorce under the legal basis of comity. Once a divorce is recognized in the United States, the divorced parties may be eligible for certain state and federal benefits that they may not otherwise have been eligible for.

Comity and How It Works

As a general rule, under the basis of comity, a foreign divorce can be demonstrated to be valid in the US with the presentation of evidence that the divorce generally complied with US notions of process of service, i.e., notice that the proceedings were taking place and followed residency/domicile requirements usually associated with divorce proceedings.

Comity is a legal principle whereby political entities, such as countries, states or courts of different jurisdictions agree to accept each other’s legislative, executive and judicial actions. It is a form of legal reciprocity that is used to convey mutuality, deference and respect.

States in the US generally acknowledge divorces abroad as being valid in the US when two circumstances are satisfied. First, it must be shown that at least one of the parties satisfied a residency or domicile requirement in the foreign country—effectively giving the court jurisdiction to issue a divorce decree. Second, it must be shown that both parties to the divorce were given notice and adequate opportunity to be heard as part of the proceedings. When these two basic criteria are satisfied, comity applies, and the states typically recognize the divorce. Otherwise, the foreign divorce would be considered invalid in the United States.

Necessary Paperwork

Oftentimes, when validating an international divorce in the United States, the US courts require translated authenticated copies of foreign marriage licenses and divorce certificates. It can sometimes be challenging to obtain copies of these important documents from the appropriate offices and courts in the foreign country. The process of obtaining copies of these documents could involve seeking permission from foreign embassies and the process of ensuring that these documents are further authenticated by the appropriate foreign government entity can be challenging and trying on one’s patience.

Work With An International Divorce Attorney

International divorces can be very complicated—legally speaking. There is a blending of foreign law and American law, and it can sometimes be tough to navigate between the two. If you have a foreign divorce that you are trying to validate in South Carolina, you should consider working with an experienced International divorce attorney. The experienced professionals at Klok Law Firm LLC can help.

Contact us today for a free consultation.

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