Because of the Full Faith and Credit Clause of the Constitution, all states must recognize the court proceedings of other states, including divorces.  This means that a divorce obtained in another state is valid as long as it meets the requirements of that state.  One of the main requirements in most jurisdictions is a residency requirement, so that the person seeking divorce must be a legal resident of the state before he or she can obtain a divorce there.  However, this requirement is sometimes quite short, as low as six weeks.

Why Would People Look to Other Jurisdictions for Divorces?

There are several reasons that people might seek out other jurisdictions for a divorce.  Often, the couple is simply seeking to speed up the process by avoiding the complex legal requirements of their state, but in some cases one spouse is seeking to avoid the financial hardship of his state’s divorce laws.  The main reasons include:

  • Many jurisdictions require cause for a divorce and will not accept "irreconcilable differences."  Many also require fault or a separation agreement to be in force for a year;
  • Many jurisdictions have complex paperwork requirements and residency requirements;
  • Some jurisdictions may take up to a year or more to finalize the divorce;
  • Some jurisdictions provide more financial benefit by requiring less alimony and provides for a fast, uncontested divorce.

Is a Divorce Obtained in Another Country Valid?

Divorces obtained in other countries will generally be recognized by the United States as long as no person’s rights were violated.  This means that contested divorces may not be allowed unless the defendant spouse was notified and had a chance to respond.  Uncontested divorces are generally recognized, however, and are often very easy to obtain.

Do I Need a Lawyer?

If you are in the process of obtaining a divorce, an experienced divorce lawyer can advise you of your rights and help in the division of assets.  If you have obtained a divorce from another jurisdiction, a lawyer can advise you of its legality.  A lawyer can also represent you in court if needed.