Is my divorce valid in the United States?

Case Study: Domestication of French mutual consent divorce agreements

On a global average, approximately 50% of all marriages end up in a divorce. Second, more couples than ever are bi national or live outside of their country of nationality. Therefore, laws and courts had to adapt to this new reality.

Several countries can have jurisdiction over this matter. International couples may choose the Court where the procedure is viewed as easier or faster.

In the United States, there is no legal obligations for the American Court to recognize and enforce a foreign judgment. Yet, based on the doctrine of comity, most foreign judgments are in fact domesticated and enforced in the United States. The Doctrine of Comity consists of respecting foreign judgment due to the respect of foreign judicial acts. For example, in Pawley v. Pawley, 46 So. 2d 464, 1950 Fla. LEXIS 908, 28 A.L.R.2d 1358 (Fla. Apr. 6, 1950), the Florida Supreme court recognized the validity of a Cuban judgement.

Yet, it is important to note that this is not automatic the American Courts could reject a legally obtained divorce in another country. Since January 1, 2017, French couples can divorce by signing a simple agreement without going to a court and meeting a judge. Therefore, there is no judgment, nor any divorce decree per se.  American courts only see the mutual consent divorce as a private agreement between parties. Though this procedure is perfectly legal there,in the U. S., a judge can only domesticate a judgment. 

Thus, the former couple may find themselves in the awkward position where they are considered divorced in France but married in the United States.

Contact us if you have any question on the enforce-ability of your judgement, future divorce or other international family law matters.

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