What Steps do I Take to get a Foreign Divorce?

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  • Written By: Jodee Redmond
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 02 February 2020
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A person who was married in the United States and wishes to get a foreign divorce needs to get expert legal advice from a practitioner in the jurisdiction where he or she currently live. The documents can be filed in that country, and the couple would be subject to the laws of the country where the divorce is being granted. Child support, custody and spousal support would be decided based on the laws of the jurisdiction granting the divorce.

Before filing papers to get a foreign divorce, it's a good idea to check with a legal advisor to find out whether people who want to end their marriage must satisfy a residency requirement before they can file the paperwork. A person who is planning to return to the United States following the divorce will also want to make sure that it will be recognized as valid. While there are no treaties signed by the United States that specifically recognize foreign divorce judgments, these documents are recognized as a courtesy.

To get a marriage license in the United States following a foreign divorce, the individual is required to show proof that the divorce was granted. Certified copies of the divorce papers must be produced before the marriage license can be issued. If these documents are in a foreign language, they must be translated into English and notarized before being presented at the Marriage License Bureau.


In Ontario, Canada, the procedure for having a foreign divorce recognized is a bit different. The person who has been divorced outside of the country must see a lawyer to get a written legal opinion about whether the divorce is valid in the province. At least one of the spouses must have lived in the jurisdiction for at least 12 months before the divorce was granted. The lawyer will address the letter to both parties to the divorce and explain why the divorce should be recognized in Ontario.

A foreign divorce will be recognized in the United Kingdom if it is legally binding in the country where it was granted. As long as one of the parties to the divorce lived in the jurisdiction or was a national of that country, the UK will recognize that the individual is divorced. A copy of the divorce papers must be presented to the Registrar before a marriage license will be issued. Unless the papers were granted for religious purposes only or are clearly invalid, the Registrar will issue a marriage license.


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Post 3

What do I need to know about securing a divorce when I am in the middle east? I will be living over there into the foreseeable future and my wife and I are in the process of splitting up. I will have to leave the country before anything is final so I will presumably have to go through foreign authorities to get everything in order. I know that religious extremism and family values are thought of differently in that part of the world. Will this be an obstacle to my divorce?

Post 2

That is interesting about the law that Canada has requiring you to have lived in a certain area for over a year before they will grant you a divorce. I have heard of similar laws that require you to live in a certain place for a certain period of time before running for public office but this is different. I'm not quite sure what the logic of the restriction is but I guess it must make sense to someone.

Post 1

You will probably need to contact a lawyer who is based in the country where you are hoping to file for divorce. The law gets weird when it travels over international borders and you will probably need the advice of an expert to make sure that you have filed all the necessary documents through all the proper channels.

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