Does Florida Recognize My Foreign Divorce Decree?
Most of those who are married in the U.S. and later decide to dissolve that union, file for divorce in the same country where they were married. However, this is not always the case, especially in situations where one of the spouses lives abroad. Fortunately, it is possible to file for divorce in another state or a foreign country, although it does come with its own set of complications, so if you are unsure if your local court will recognize a divorce obtained from another country or state, it is important to retain an experienced Fort Lauderdale divorce attorney who can ensure that you comply with the proper rules and procedures.
The Foreign Divorce Process
Divorces obtained in other states or in other countries are both considered to be foreign judgments in Florida. This means that if a person obtained a divorce in a different state or country and his or her spouse lives in Florida, the Florida resident will need to petition the local court to enforce or modify the divorce decree through domestication. By domesticating a foreign judgment, whether it be from a different state or a different country, Florida courts allow parties who are seeking enforcement of their decree to apply for relief through local courts.
How do I Domesticate a Foreign Judgment?
To request domestication of a foreign divorce decree, a petitioner must obtain a certified copy of the final divorce judgment from the originating state or country. Petitioners must then prepare and submit to the court a notarized affidavit, as well as a petition to domesticate. The petition itself must contain the terms that a person wishes to be modified or enforced. In most cases, Florida courts are willing to domesticate a foreign judgment as long as it has not been amended, is not on appeal, and is not subject to pending proceedings in another jurisdiction. The petitioner will also need to establish that comity exists, which means that:
- Both parties had notice of the divorce proceedings, which requires service of process;
- Both parties had the opportunity to be heard during those proceedings; and
- At least one party was actually domiciled in the foreign state or country at the time of divorce and remained there while the other party was given service of process.
The last element often proves to be the most important, as a number of courts have actually ruled that a divorce obtained in a foreign country where neither party was domiciled is invalid.
Domesticating a foreign decree can be difficult, especially in family law matters, so if you were granted a divorce in a different country and have questions about enforcing or modifying that decree in Florida, it is critical to speak with an attorney about your legal options, as this will save you time and money in the long run.
Contact Our Legal Team Today for Assistance
To speak with dedicated Fort Lauderdale divorce lawyer Sandra Bonfiglio, P.A. about your own foreign divorce decree, please call 954-945-7591 or send us an online message and a member of our legal team will help you schedule a free initial consultation.