November 28, 2021

Volume XI, Number 332

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Foreign Divorces – Be Careful!

Clients often are in a hurry to get a divorce.  Many times they have seen advertisements or have heard from third parties that they can fly to Haiti, Mexico, or some foreign jurisdiction and obtain the divorce within 48 hours.  While it is certainly possible to get a foreign divorce, you need to be very careful in trying to obtain a “quickie foreign divorce.”

Virginia and most jurisdictions in the United States will recognize a foreign divorce so long as appropriate due process requirements have been satisfied.  There has to be proper notice to the other spouse and an opportunity to be heard.  There also has to be proper jurisdiction established in that foreign country.

The vast majority of the time foreign “quickie divorces” will notbe recognized by Virginia or most states.  The jurisdiction of a foreign divorce can always be the subject of attack at a later time.  Whether the due process requirements to satisfy Virginia or that particular state have been satisfied can always be subject to scrutiny.  Even if the divorce is found to be valid, the divorce may be limited strictly to the entry of the divorce without any binding effect concerning division of property or support or custodial rights. 

Nine times out of ten the best practice is to satisfy the jurisdictional requirements of the state or states that have jurisdiction and not to seek a foreign divorce simply to obtain such a quick divorce.  

Virginia requires that one of the parties be a resident and domiciliary of the state for six months prior to the filing of a Complaint for Divorce.  While a party may want a quicker divorce, it is a much more prudent practice to satisfy the Virginia jurisdictional requirements or the state where the parties are located and file in that state rather than attempting a “quickie foreign divorce.” 

© 2021 Odin, Feldman & Pittleman, P.C.National Law Review, Volume III, Number 275
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About this Author

J. Patrick McConnell, Odin Feldman Law Firm, Family Law Attorney
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With more than 30 years of experience in Family & Domestic Relations law, Patrick McConnell represents clients who have particularly complicated matters that cross state or international boundaries, or that involve complex financial issues. His background in finance and knowledge of tax law provide insight that can lead to innovative solutions. When necessary, Patrick teams with an attorney from the firm’s Estate Planning or Corporate practice areas to assist with the preservation of wealth for his clients' children or their future generations.

Patrick is chair of the Family...

703-218-2185
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