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International divorce can complicate property division issues

Massachusetts couples in which one or more parties hold dual citizenship status may find a recent report of interest. The piece outlines some of the difficulties that can arise when dual citizenship enters into play in a divorce proceeding. The introduction of multiple jurisdictions can seriously complicate a divorce, including issues of child custody and property division. For such couples, understanding these issues can help prevent an unfair advantage for one party if a divorce is on the horizon.

The primary issue in these types of cases involves the proper jurisdiction in which the divorce will take place. In the vast majority of cases, the nation in which the couple resides at the time a divorce is initiated is the one that holds jurisdiction in the matter. This means that the laws and procedures in place within that nation will be the ones used to determine the details of the divorce.

For couples in countries in which women have very few rights, the outcome of a divorce could be a drastically unfair division of property which could leave the wife with virtually nothing. On the other hand, if a divorce takes place in a country in which the assumption is that children are always better cared for by the mother, a husband could find himself with very little legal access to his children following a divorce and custody proceeding. Other concerns include the likelihood that another country will cooperate with the return of a child to the United States in a pending custody dispute.

As with so many issues, when it comes to a divorce involving dual citizenship, knowledge truly is power for Massachusetts residents. Gaining a full understanding of the legal implications of a divorce in multiple jurisdictions can help spouses make informed decisions on where to reside and when to file for divorce. Those decisions can have significant ramifications when it comes to child custody struggles or property division negotiations.

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

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