International Divorce in Arizona

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International Divorce

Many Arizonans are from somewhere else, including many immigrants. Some of whom married in their homeland and moved here and now want to get divorced here. Some of whom may have divorced in another country before moving here. And, in some cases, one spouse moved here, and one remained behind.

We often get three questions regarding international law and divorce:

  • Is my divorce from another country valid in the United States?
  • If I got married in another country, can I get divorced here?
  • If my spouse lives in another country, can I get divorced here?

Is my divorce from another country valid in Arizona?

Most likely, Arizona will recognize your divorce from another country. Arizona courts follow a principle called “comity,” which is to accept the judicial acts of another country as a sign of respect. But there is a limitation—Arizona will not recognize an international divorce if that divorce deprived one of the spouses of “due process.” What that means is simply this: Did both spouses have notice of the proceedings (i.e., did they both know the divorce was occurring), and did they both have a chance to respond?

If I got married in another country, can I get divorced here?

Yes. Arizona can divorce you even if you were married in another country. You still must meet the jurisdictional requirements for divorce, which are as follows:

  • To end the marriage, one of the spouses must have lived in Arizona for the last 90 days.
  • To determine custody, Arizona must be the place where the children have, most recently, resided for six consecutive months or more.
  • To divide the property and award either spousal maintenance or child support, Arizona must have “personal jurisdiction” over the spouse; i.e., the other spouse must have some connection to Arizona that would permit the state to divide their property. It is a complicated concept, and if you have questions whether Arizona might

If my spouse lives in another country, can I get divorced here?

Yes, as long as you have lived here for at least 90 days, Arizona can divorce you. But to decide issues with the children, Arizona needs to be the place where the children have lived for six consecutive months most recently. To divide property and award support, the Court needs personal jurisdiction over your spouse (this means your spouse needs to have a sufficient enough connection to Arizona for Arizona to exercise jurisdiction over your spouse). Arizona can “bifurcate” the divorce—that is, handle the parts of the case for which it has jurisdiction and let the appropriate jurisdiction deal with the remaining issues.

If you choose to get divorced Arizona, you must serve the other spouse. If they are living in a country that is a part of the Hague Convention, then you’ll need to serve in accordance with how that country has set up its procedures. For example, to serve someone living in Mexico, the petition and summons must translated into English, you must fill out Request for Service Abroad, send the original English version and the translated Spanish version to the Mexican Central Authority.

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