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A tale of two courts: dual citizenship and divorce

Today's world is globalizing at an unprecedented pace. Communication tools, economic ties, and a popular culture that is no longer fenced off by national borders have made it easier and more likely for people from different nations to meet and marry. While the increasingly international aspect of families has many positive qualities, the same aspect can make separation a legal headache.

Given the proximity of Texas to the Mexican border, local residents should be especially cognizant of complications that may arise during a divorce, child support, property allocation, or child custody case.

If one or both spouses have moved to another country since becoming married, that nation's local courts may have jurisdiction over divorce proceedings, no matter which nation played host to the marriage. Before relocating, couples should update their knowledge of the standards and statues of family law in their new home nation, foreclosing any unexpected headaches down the road.

Usually, a divorce secured in a foreign nation is recognized by the United States, but it is important to note that no "divorce treaty" currently exists between America and another nation. Many Texas acquire dual citizenship through marrying the national of a foreign nation-a decision that may hold them responsible to foreign laws, many of which are unfavorable toward wives and mothers in divorce and custody cases.

Most difficult are situations in which one parent has left to another country, taking children with them. The Supreme Court itself has noted that it has no jurisdiction in other nations, and Americans who share kids with a foreign citizen will need to pursue custody through the court system of another country.

As more and more marriages are reshaped by dual-citizenry, more and more Americans will need to prepare for the possibility of a legal separation that crosses borders, cultures, and court systems. Working with a family law attorney to anticipate and surmount these challenges can make all the difference when starting a new single life of one's own.

Source: Forbes, "Small World, Big Problem: Divorces Involving Dual Citizenship," Jeff Landers, Jan. 10, 2013

  • Divorce is rarely a simple thing, but that doesn't mean it has to be painful. For more information, contact our San Antonio family law page.

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