Over the years our law firm has represented clients with connections to other countries. International divorces can become complicated, especially when there are minor children.
One such complication is the Hague Abduction Convention, a multi-lateral treaty in which the signatories agree not to allow parents to migrate with their minor children to non-signatory countries. Many countries, however, have not signed the treaty such as Pakistan, India, Egypt and Nigeria to name a few.
Other countries, such as Brazil, although signatory countries, have been determined by the U.S. State Department to be non-compliant, making the return of children very difficult in some cases.
When an international couple divorces, heartbreak can result. One parent typically returns to the country of his nationality or citizenship, sometimes with the children. When the couple divorces, the other parent, depending on the laws of the country, may not be allowed to stay in the country. The expatriated spouse may then be forced to leave the country without her children and with no viable manner of returning for the children.
In one case handled by our law firm, the Mother took a minor child with her on a "vacation" to her homeland, Egypt, a non-signatory country. When the vacation turned into 9-months, Father sent one of his adult sons to collect the boy.
The Mother moved to Egypt and the couple ultimately divorced. The family court judge ruled that Mother could not have custody of the couple's remaining minor child due to her residence in a non-signatory country. She has appealed the judge and we are awaiting the results from the Michigan Court of Appeals.
Another complication is that some wealthy families conduct forum shopping when an international couple calls it quits in a divorce. In such cases, the applicable law acquires critical importance in the determination of the property division.
Some countries have laws that recognize pre-marital assets and pre-nuptial agreements while others do not. The situation is similar to the laws of each of our 50-states. Texas, for example, has very restrictive alimony laws.
If you or a family member are involved in an international divorce, schedule a free consultation with our law firm to thoroughly discuss your options.