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International Divorce Lawyer in Minnesota

International Divorce Lawyer in Minnesota

More and more today, the makeup of a family transcends borders. Likewise, the breakup of a married couple also transcends borders. International divorce can pose unique challenges. At Heritage Law Office, our international divorce attorney based in Minnesota understands what these challenges are and how to proactively address them to make an international divorce go as smoothly as possible. Contact us through our online form or at 414-253-8500 to schedule a free consultation today.

What Is Considered an International Divorce?

There are circumstances where laws of another county may apply to a divorce as opposed to the laws of the United States. When another country's laws apply, the divorce is often referred to as an international divorce. These divorces are known as international divorces and may include but are not limited to the following scenarios:

  • The marriage took place in another country.
  • One or both spouses live in another country.
  • One or both spouses own property in another country.
  • One or both spouses are citizens of another country.

If you live in Minnesota and are unsure as to whether or not your divorce constitutes an international divorce, it is best to speak with our family law attorney experienced in this area. 

Who Has Jurisdiction over My International Divorce?

In most cases, there is more than one country that can claim jurisdiction in an international divorce. The problem that arises is that each of these countries has its own rules on divorce and all the related issues that flow from a divorce. As such, the country of jurisdiction can have a huge impact on the outcome of the divorce. 

In most cases, in whichever jurisdiction the first spouse files for divorce, the respective court will have the authority to oversee the divorce. That also means that the same court can decide things on issues like:

  • Property division
  • Parenting time (custody)
  • Child support
  • spousal maintenance (alimony)

Generally speaking, there are two requirements for a country to have jurisdiction:

  1. Recognition. The country must have recognized your marriage in the first place. In the United States, most marriages legally entered into in any other country are recognized. The same, however, is not true in other countries, especially for LGBTQ+ marriages. 
  2. Residency. You must satisfy the residency requirement established by the country. In the United States, that means satisfying the residency requirement of Minnesota (or any other U.S. state in which you or your spouse resides). 

You need an international divorce lawyer to guide you through the process and to ensure your rights and interests are upheld each step of the way.

What are the Unique Challenges of an International Divorce in Minnesota?

International divorces have unique challenges. Some of the most common are explained below. 

Cultural Differences

Different countries have different cultures, and how a court handles divorce reflects that culture. For example, women may not be afforded the same rights as men in divorce proceedings in some jurisdictions.


Having the terms of a divorce order enforced is a challenge in many jurisdictions. Some countries may refuse to even honor that there was a divorce if it goes against their laws–like the Philippines or The Vatican, which do not recognize divorce under any circumstances. Many countries, in the absence of an international treaty, may not enforce property division, custody, or support orders.

As it is, nearly half of all countries, including the European Union, are members of the Hague Convention on Private International Law. This Convention includes several divorce-related conventions:

  • Convention on the Recognition of Divorces and Legal Separations
  • Convention on the Law Applicable to Matrimonial Property Regimes
  • Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction
  • Convention on the International Recovery of Child Support and Other Forms of Family Maintenance

There are also treaties made between and among countries to recognize and enforce divorce, custody, and other related matters.

Property Division

Some countries are very private about ownership of property. This can make it very difficult to find out what a person actually owns, much less force them to part with it in a divorce proceeding.


Recognizing marriage is one thing, but other things matter, too, when it comes to recognition and international divorce. For example, if you have a lawfully created and executed postnuptial or prenuptial agreement, another country may not recognize it even if the United States does. 

Two Critical Ways to Protect Children during International Divorces

Perhaps the most contentious issue to arise in international divorce is child custody and time-sharing. When faced with an international divorce, there are steps a parent or guardian can take to help protect a child at the center of an international divorce. 

Hire Counsel

One of the most important steps a parent can take is to hire a divorce lawyer who has experience with international divorces and child custody. By having a legal advocate on their side, a parent can receive customized, relevant advice and representation. 

Act Quickly

Jurisdiction and other important matters are often determined by where the first party files the petition to dissolve the marriage. Do not wait to file for divorce as your delay could have a major effect on how custody is awarded.  

Dual Filing and International Divorces

When one spouse files in the United States but the other spouse files in a foreign country, this results in a dual filing. Courts in the United States will consider a number of factors to determine if they can continue to hear the divorce case:

  • Does the couple have property in the U.S. state where the divorce petition was filed? 
  • Does the foreign court have a greater interest in the divorce than the U.S. state where the divorce was filed? If so, what is that interest?
  • Do both spouses live abroad? Is at least one spouse domiciled in the state where the divorce was filed?
  • If the divorce is fault-based or if evidence is required on any matter (e.g., property, child custody, domestic violence), then which state harbors the most evidence (e.g., bank accounts, police reports, witnesses)? 
  • Would the spouse domiciled in the U.S. face considerable hardship if forced to participate in the case filed abroad?

These factors may require intensive research. Only an international divorce lawyer would be able to address these factors thoroughly and competently. 

Contact an International Divorce Lawyer in Minnesota Today

International divorces involve unique challenges unknown to other divorces in the United States. At Heritage Law Office, our international divorce lawyer in Minnesota will handle your international divorce with care and precision. We understand what's at stake and are committed to helping you determine the best jurisdiction for your divorce and representing you throughout the process. If you are a Minnesota resident and involved in an international divorce, contact us today through our online form or at 414-253-8500 to schedule a free consultation.

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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. What Is an International Divorce and How Does It Differ from a Domestic Divorce?

An international divorce is one where the laws of another country come into play alongside or instead of U.S. laws. The divorce may involve couples who were married in another country, own property in another country, or have one or both partners residing in another country. Domestic divorce typically involves just one jurisdiction—the state where the couple lives or is filing for divorce. International divorce is significantly more complex because it often involves navigating the laws and regulations of two different countries.

2. What Factors Determine Jurisdiction in an International Divorce?

Jurisdiction in an international divorce is generally determined by two main factors: recognition of the marriage and residency requirements. The country in which you're filing for divorce must first recognize your marriage as valid. Secondly, you must meet that country's residency requirements. Sometimes, multiple countries may have jurisdiction, making it crucial to understand the implications of filing in one jurisdiction over another.

3. How Are Assets and Custody Handled in an International Divorce?

Assets and custody are two of the most contentious aspects in any divorce but become even more complicated in international settings. Different countries have different laws governing property division and child custody. Some countries might not recognize prenuptial or postnuptial agreements. International treaties like the Hague Convention can sometimes facilitate the process but don't apply universally.

4. How Can Cultural Differences Impact an International Divorce?

Cultural norms and laws can significantly impact the proceedings and outcome of an international divorce. For instance, some countries may not provide equal rights to both genders in a divorce. Others may have stringent views on child custody that differ dramatically from U.S. norms. Understanding these cultural nuances is crucial when navigating an international divorce.

5. Can a Divorce Decree Issued in Another Country Be Enforced in the United States?

Enforcement of foreign divorce decrees can be a complicated matter. Generally speaking, a foreign divorce decree will be recognized in the United States if both parties had an opportunity to be heard, and the decree does not violate any fundamental principles of fairness. However, certain U.S. states have specific rules and exceptions, making it crucial to consult with an international divorce attorney to understand how a foreign decree might be enforced.

Contact Us Today

For a comprehensive plan that will meet your needs or the needs of a loved one, contact us today. Located in Downtown Milwaukee, we serve Milwaukee County, surrounding communities, and to clients across Wisconsin, Minnesota, Illinois, and California.