If your spouse is a foreign national, divorce can be complicated. Discover the complete guide on how to divorce a foreign spouse here.
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A Detailed Guide to Divorcing a Foreign Spouse

Are you having marital troubles with a foreign spouse?

Cultural differences can create a lot of tension and misunderstandings in a relationship. For some people, these differences lie deeper than they realize or like. Add to that the top reasons for a divorce, like financial issues, infidelity, and addiction.

Below, we’ll focus on the divorce process for wedded interracial couples. Keep reading for a guide on how to divorce a foreign spouse.

Become Familiar With the Local Laws

Divorcing a foreign spouse starts with learning the rules of the land. Do you live in the country or state your spouse moved in? If you followed your spouse to live in a foreign land, it’s still possible to file and serve divorce papers.

Keep in mind that not all countries allow divorce. Except for the Vatican, the Philippines is the only other country forbidding divorce. However, as a foreigner from a country that recognizes the process, you can get an exemption.

Understand how the process works in the country first. It allows you to know your rights and how to serve the divorce paperwork. Go to the United States Department of State website to read the rules for divorce in other countries.

If you live in the United States, read the divorce laws in your state. Often, it depends on residency and service requirements. It varies by state.

Hire a family lawyer to help you better understand these laws.

If you live outside the country, contact the local U.S. embassy or consulate. They’ll give a list of local attorneys or help you find one. To see a list of embassies, consulates, and diplomatic missions, go to the U.S. Department of State’s website.

Complete the Necessary Paperwork for the Divorce

After learning about the local laws, it’s time to get to work. With an attorney, collect and fill in all the necessary paperwork for your divorce. During this step, think about how to divide your assets.

The most common assets to divide between your partner are:

  • House
  • Vehicles and boats
  • Financial assets (money, bank accounts, and savings)
  • Debt repayment
  • Taxes
  • Credit cards
  • Business
  • Household goods and furnishings
  • Insurance policies
  • Retirement accounts 

If you have children, propose custody, visitation, and child support arrangements. It’s only the first division of assets and children. Make the final settlement with your spouse later on in the process. 

How to File Your Divorce Petition While Living Abroad

The next step to learn how to divorce a foreign spouse is filing a petition. In the United States, you only need to go to a state court in your country. It’s also possible in your partner’s state court.

If you moved abroad to live with your foreign spouse, you might not know where to go.

Like finding a lawyer overseas, consider contacting the U.S. embassy or consulate. They’ll help through the divorce filing process. They can also get the necessary documents to make the U.S. government acknowledge the divorce.

Serve Your Spouse and Finalize the Divorce

Even if your spouse lives in a foreign country, you can serve your spouse. Call the U.S. embassy since it allows you to serve the court documents correctly. They get everything and everyone necessary for your divorce.

For example, if you need a process server in a foreign country, the embassy can help. The same process applies if your spouse already left the country. Some countries allow you to serve the paperwork through email or certified return receipt. 

You can also serve your spouse through a notice in the local newspaper or other publication. Contact the local newspaper or other local types of media if you’re serving with this method. The publishing company must be in the same place as your spouse to ensure it reaches them.

Your spouse can waive service to ease this process. When they do, you won’t need to deliver the paperwork anymore. Instead, your spouse will sign a waiver of service form.

They can get these forms from a local court or a family law attorney. 

Now, you’re ready to divorce a foreign spouse. All you need to do is to wait whether your spouse contests it. If your spouse doesn’t respond to your court documents, the divorce will proceed after some time. 

Common Questions Asked on Divorcing a Foreign Spouse

Today, interracial marriages are more common. In the United States, 17% of newlyweds married someone from a different race or ethnicity. However, not all marriages reach a happy ending or last forever.

Here are some common questions people with a foreign spouse tend to ask when they file for a divorce. 

What Happens If You Divorce a Non-Citizen Foreign Spouse?

When you divorce an immigrant spouse, the event won’t affect their immigration status. However, when you divorce a non-U.S. citizen, the spouse will lose their residency status. It will only occur if you file for a divorce within two years of the marriage.

How Long Will the Divorce Process Last?

On average, a judgment may occur within 6 weeks to 12 months after filing and petitioning for the divorce.

Remember, the speed of the divorce process depends on the jurisdiction. If uncontested, the divorce will run smoother and faster. If your spouse contests the divorce, the court may take longer to decide.

A good way to avoid a prolonged process is to settle some things before filing for divorce. It includes child custody and asset distribution.

Learn How to Divorce a Foreign Spouse Right

Remember, this guide on how to divorce a foreign spouse only discusses general expectations. If you want to learn about the specifics of your case, consult a family lawyer. 

With that said, we hope you picked up a lot of information and knowledge from our divorce guide.

If you want to see other interesting content about various legal topics, check our blog now and learn. 

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