Filing for divorce when your spouse lives abroad

On Behalf of | Jun 21, 2023 | Divorce

Initiating divorce proceedings when you and your spouse live in different countries poses its own set of challenges. Distance can complicate matters, making the process even more strenuous.

It is important to remember that divorce law varies significantly from state to state, and country to country. Although your spouse lives in another country, as a Massachusetts resident, you will follow Massachusetts divorce laws. Here is a breakdown of the process.

Establishing jurisdiction

The first step in any divorce process is to establish jurisdiction, which means proving that the court has the right to make decisions about your marriage. In Massachusetts, you need to have lived in the state for at least one year before you can file for divorce. If your spouse is in another country and refuses to participate in the proceedings, you can still move forward with the divorce.

Service of process

To comply with Massachusetts law, you need to ensure your spouse receives the divorce papers. The service of process might prove more challenging when your spouse lives in another country. However, it is possible through various methods such as certified mail, personal service by someone over 18 or publication in a newspaper. Regardless of the method, you must provide the court with proof that you served your spouse with the divorce papers.

Finalizing the divorce

Once you have established jurisdiction and served your spouse with the divorce papers, you can move forward with the divorce proceedings. The court will allow your spouse a certain amount of time to respond. If they do not respond, the court may grant you a default divorce. This means the court will finalize the divorce without your spouse’s input or agreement.

Navigating a divorce when your spouse lives in a different country can be complex. As a Massachusetts resident, you must comply with local laws while also respecting the laws of your spouse’s country of residence. With careful attention to detail and patience, you can successfully navigate this challenging process.