Can International Laws Affect My Divorce?

October 23, 2017  |  Elizabeth A. Schading

Going through a divorce is a very difficult time in many people’s life and not something we ever plan to deal with. This means that the process can often be stressful and tense for both partners and will involve sorting out property, valuables and making the best arrangements for the children going forward. Often it can take months before a divorce is final due to the complexity of the circumstances.

In Minnesota, a divorce is called Dissolution of Marriage and unfortunately, problems often arise concerning property and children and who is entitled to receive the property and have custody. Yet, sometimes there are more complications that arise before sorting out issues concerning the marriage.
The most common scenario that can make divorce proceedings tricky is when one of the partners has maintained citizenship or has residence in another country that has a different jurisdiction. This will mean that the question of international law pops up before anything can be dealt with, which will require the courts to decide what state or country can grant and finalize the divorce. After all, laws are very specific to each state and country, which means issues in divorces will be resolved differently from country to country.
Generally, it will depend on where the divorce paperwork is filed to decide what country has jurisdiction over the dissolution of marriage. If one of the partners has lived in Minnesota for six months or longer, then they are entitled for the divorce to be dealt with under the laws in Minnesota, rather than international law. The question may be solved by who filed for the divorce first and where.
In one case, this very issue of jurisdiction was disputed. The couple were married in Minnesota and lived here happily for a number of years before relocating to Norway. After that, the wife and child decided to return to Minnesota while the husband stayed in Norway. The husband and wife applied for a separation license in Norway and then they both decided they wanted a divorce. This is where the matter became complicated. The husband applied for divorce in Norway, while the wife filed for divorce in Minnesota. Thus, the issue was what country and jurisdiction would deal with the divorce. Despite arguments and appeals in the court, it was decided that since the wife had first commenced the divorce proceedings in Minnesota that the process would be dealt within the United States.
While this is just one example, it is important to remember that every case will be different and it will depend on the individual circumstances to decide what state or country will handle the divorce proceedings. Usually these situations are complex and it is recommended that partners seek expert advice before their legal case begins. This way they can ensure the best start in divorce proceedings.
If you find yourself in a difficult divorce situation, it is vital to speak to a professional legal expert in order to find the best solution for you. This is especially true if you think your divorce involves interstate or international matters like what happened in the previous case. A qualified and experienced divorce attorney in Minnesota will be able to help and advise you on your divorce situation and make sure divorces are dealt with properly.