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Divorce and citizenship issues

When an American citizen seeks to marry a foreign citizen, an individual living abroad or a dual citizen, the engaged couple usually has to jump through hoops to obtain a marriage certificate and to live together within the same national borders. For better and for worse, when couples with complicated citizenship issues seek to divorce, red tape similarly abounds.

Essentially, many of these couples face the challenge of seeking divorce in two separate countries simultaneously. As the world becomes "smaller" and more interconnected, a trend in divorces involving citizenship challenges is growing, according to the president of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers.

It is important for anyone facing this situation to understand that you may not be able to obtain a divorce in the location of your choice. Though American divorces may seem like the default for most couples married in the U.S., spouses living abroad may not be afforded that option. Generally it is the country where couples reside that retains jurisdiction over that couple's divorce.

Different nations enforce varied divorce laws. Some nations will make it easy for dual or foreign citizens to divorce, while others will make it seemingly impossibly complicated.

No matter what your unique situation or where you live, if you or your spouse is a U.S. citizen or you reside in the U.S., it is advisable that you discuss your circumstances with an experienced American family law attorney. An attorney will be able to answer your questions and help you map out a plan. And if the attorney you call does not have the expertise to deal with your complicated situation, he or she can direct you to someone who can.

Source: Reuters, "Divorce in two countries is double the trouble," Geoff Williams, Oct. 24, 2012

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