How Do I File for Divorce When My Spouse is in Another Country?

Absence makes the heart grow fonder. It’s a saying we’ve all heard, but in some marriages, absence just makes getting a divorce a little more complicated.

Our team has dealt firsthand with the additional complications that come when a spouse wants to get a divorce but their counterpart is either visiting or living in another country. This leads to questions about how you can actually file for a divorce if you don’t have direct contact with your spouse since they have gone international.

So, if you are living in California but need to file for divorce from your spouse who is currently in another country, we are here to help.

Go to a California Divorce Court

Your first step will be to work with your attorney and get in front of a judge in California. This starts the divorce process and allows you to serve your spouse with the necessary divorce paperwork to proceed.

Serving the Divorce Papers

If you are in contact with your spouse, then this step can be relatively simple. You would need to either get them to waive their right to service or communicate with them the best way to get the paperwork to them. This could be through certified mail directly to their address.

Once they have the papers, they would need to submit an affidavit confirming they have received and understand the notice. This does not mean they have to agree to any terms or conditions at this point but just that they are simply acknowledging the receipt.

If you are not in contact with your spouse, the process gets trickier. Most countries have agreed to abide by the Hague Service Convention, which provides people in the U.S. to serve legal papers to individuals who live in other countries. In this case, you would mail the service to a specific office in the foreign country that would then serve your spouse and provide certification for you.

If your spouse is only visiting another country but not living there permanently, then you may need to work with your attorney to hire a private investigator to locate your spouse and serve them the divorce papers. The private investigator may locate them or you could have a public posting up in search of your spouse to notify them of the divorce. This shows the court that you have done your due diligence to notify them of the divorce.

When a Spouse Refuses to Participate

When you are able to confirm that your spouse has been served but refuses to participate in the process, a default order may be issued by the court. The California divorce court will not hold you hostage in your divorce case just because your soon-to-be ex-spouse refuses to respond.

A default order would still require you to state your case for any provisions such as child custody, child support, alimony, and the division of assets. The court will not rule in your favor simply because your spouse is not participating, but you are the only one telling your story so you have more room to argue on your own behalf.

Work with a California Divorce Attorney

These cases can be complicated. Attempting to navigate a California divorce on your own when your spouse is living or visiting internationally could prove to be more difficult than you are prepared for.

The team at KL Family Law has helped our clients navigate the complexities of an international divorce case. Contact our team today for experienced California divorce attorneys who understand the boundaries of the law.

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KL Family Law

At KL Family Law, we understand that your primary concern is the well-being of your children. We strive to offer tailored solutions for your family law needs and help you move forward through this difficult transition.

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