With Americans increasingly living and working abroad as we expand to a global workforce, Indiana divorces with international aspects are not uncommon.1 This blog briefly highlights some of the issues you need to know if you are in this situation.
Jurisdiction. As long as one of the parties have lived in the state and county for six (6) months, the Court has jurisdiction to entertain a divorce case and it can make a custody award, divide the property, and divorce the parties. So at a basic level, Indiana courts can provide complete relief for the spouse (and children, if there are any of the marriage) living in Indiana.
Property. With regard to real and improved property (house or lots), they are part of the marital pot for the court to divide. However, if they are located in another country, this creates two potential issues. The first is valuing the property in US dollars and getting that valuation admitted into evidence in the United States in court if there is a dispute. With the assistance of counsel, this can be overcome in most cases. The second is enforcing a divorce decree award in another country. So let’s assume the property is in London, there would have to be a treaty between the United States and that country for the property to be divided according to an Indiana divorce decree, once it was domesticated. In some countries, there are no such treaties, and this causes significant litigation in a foreign country. A part of the divorce preparation will be to determine this in advance, and if this is the case, perhaps seek a different asset division to avoid litigation abroad. This is a fairly technical area, but a seasoned divorced counsel will be able to navigate you through the process. There is also personal property, such as pots and pans, but ordinarily, because of the expense of transport, these do not raise issues with international divorce. However, if there is an issue, there are numerous tools to address the same.
Custody and parenting time. Custody and parenting time are particularly hard when the parents live in different countries. As a general rule, presupposing the children are older, the court will use the Indiana Parenting Time Guidelines where distance is a factor and craft a parenting time schedule that is in the children’s best interests. In these cases, the courts tend to order frequent Facetime or Skype as well as allow time in the foreign country during the summer and other long breaks with children of older ages.2 Ordinarily, if the spouse based abroad works for a company with offices in the United States, there is not an issue with the payment of child support.
While international divorce can be a very complex legal transaction, it is not normally as problematic if residency is established in Indiana and the parties understand some of the pitfalls outlined in this blog. Ciyou & Dixon, P.C. attorneys routinely handle divorce cases with international aspects. This blog is written for general informational purposes only. It is not a solicitation for services or legal advice. It is an advertisement.
- This blog doesn't necessarily address the situation where an American is married to a foreign national and the children are not United States Citizens. These are far more complicated cases.
- This blog does not address situations where a parent may pose a flight risk with the children or a is a foreign national and resides in or is a citizen of a country that is not a signatory to and ratified the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspect of Child Abduction.