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Foreign Divorces

On Behalf of | Sep 1, 2016 | Divorce

At The Manely Firm, P.C. we have clients from all over the world -from Mexico to Malaysia, from Malta to Morocco, from Moldova to Maldives, from Monaco to Mongolia.

We are often asked whether or not a divorce from a foreign country is recognized by the state of Georgia. There is no simple answer to this question as the answer depends on the details of the case.

There are no treaties between the United States and other countries that require the recognition of foreign divorces. But, a foreign divorce decree is generally recognized in a state in the United States based on the principle of comity. General principles of doctrine of comity are detailed in Hilton v. Guyot , 159 U.S. 113 (1895).

The Supreme Court’s opinion in Hilton v. Guyot established a general recognition standard for divorce judgments: “a decree confirming or dissolving a marriage, is recognized as valid in every country, unless contrary to the policy of it’s own law”.

It is very important that at least one of the parties of the divorce has to be domiciled (live and maintain residency) in the foreign country, where the divorce was obtained, at the time of the divorce. The main issue is whether the foreign judgment meets due process requirements: adequate notice (whether opposing party in the divorce was properly served and had an opportunity to be heard), plus, at least one of the parties was a domiciliary in the foreign nation at the time of the divorce.

For example, if you have a divorce decree from Bangladesh, the decree will be recognized under the condition that the other party was properly served (and whether or not the service was proper will be judged by the standards of the state of Georgia), had an opportunity to be heard, and at least one party was domiciled in Bangladesh.

That’s the basics, but, as usual, the devil is in details. Finding sufficient proof and getting evidence properly admitted in court to demonstrate that the foreign divorce decree is not contrary to the law of the state of Georgia is where everything gets complicated. Obtaining the proper evidence the right way is a critical and complicated part as a majority of the documents are coming from a foreign country. We often work with local lawyers from the foreign countries to ensure that we have what we need so that the client gets what she needs.

Every case is different, so, if you are trying to get your foreign divorce to be recognized in the state of Georgia, please give us a call. We have decades of experience in International Family Law and we would be happy to give you a free consultation.

Dina Khismatulina