The world has never been smaller than at this time in history. Technologies such as the internet, airplanes and cell phones make the borders between countries disappear. Perhaps some form of technology brought you and your soon-to-be former spouse together.
Now that you face divorce, those borders may seem insurmountable. Not only do you still have to deal with the ordinary trappings of divorce such as property division, child custody and support issues, but you also have to deal with the fact that your ex lives in another country. Even though every divorce is unique, you may be interested in the following information that may apply to your particular situation.
If you live here in New York
Even though your estranged spouse may be from another country, you may still file for divorce here in New York. In order to do so, you will need to meet the residency requirement. You may file the divorce in the same manner as any other divorce. However, the issue of service may get tricky if your spouse leaves the country. Under ordinary circumstances, service must occur in person. As a matter of course, you cannot send the paperwork by email, fax, mail or other form of communication.
If he or she leaves the country, you may ordinarily serve your international spouse in one of three ways:
- You may hire a process server in the country in which your ex resides. This may work if you know the address where he or she resides.
- You could ask your ex to sign a waiver of personal service. This works in amicable divorces in which the he or she does not intend to fight the divorce. Once you file the waiver with the court, you may send all of the applicable paperwork to him or her. Some people will send the paperwork along with the waiver, but if your ex refuses to sign it, you still need to use another method of service before the court has jurisdiction over your ex.
- If you don't have an address but know your ex's probable location within the country, you may obtain permission from the court to service him or her by publication. This involves putting a notice in a locally distributed newspaper for a certain amount of time. Upon expiration of that time frame, the court will consider service as complete.
Thereafter, the divorce may proceed as any other would. Even so, your distance may require additional arrangements depending on the circumstances.
You may need support
Even if your future former spouse lived here in the United States, you may benefit from the aid of a family law attorney. Considering that your divorce crosses international borders, the experience of an attorney who understands your challenges could prove invaluable.