The Metropolitan Washington D.C. region is home to one of the most internationally diverse communities in the world. Our lawyers have decades of experience helping resolve matters involving international family law issues. We are widely recognized for helping married and unmarried couples residing in Maryland, the District of Columbia or Virginia. Our attorneys regularly achieve successful, cost-effective outcomes for couples from two different countries, legal residents of more than one nation, parties with children born outside of the United States, and with matters involving property, financial or business interests in multiple countries. We also offer consultation services for other attorneys with cases that have these complex issues and can offer expert witness services when needed.
Our attorneys also have great experience preparing Pre-Nuptial Agreements in the international context and working with foreign pre-nuptial agreements and marital property regime contracts.
Our International Divorce and Family Law attorneys have significant experience working with legal counsel in other countries and solving problems that stem from different legal systems, languages, currencies, cultures and family traditions. We also have established relationships with foreign jurists and other professionals to help with our client’s foreign legal needs. Matters of international separation, divorce, child support and child custody can be incredibly complex. They can involve international treaties and require an understanding of the laws and practices of various countries with respect to property distribution and child custody. With decades of requisite experience to succeed on behalf of our clients, we treat each matter with respect and cultural sensitivity and give every client the attention they expect and deserve.
To consult with a member of our International Divorce and Family Law team, contact us.
Custody and Visitation Rights in International Relocation or Parental Abduction/Kidnapping Situations
Our team has decades of experience helping clients manage cases involving International Custody issues. We have successfully represented clients whose matters include abductions from the United States or abductions to the United States that fall within the purview of the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction (“1980 Hague Child Abduction Convention”), which provides for the immediate return of children taken from their country of “habitual residence” in violation of custody rights. We also regularly work with cases where the jurisdiction rules of the 1980 Hague Child Abduction Convention intersect with the jurisdiction rules under the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (“UCCJEA”).
In most states, a parent taking a child to another country will face considerable scrutiny with respect to the reasons for the move, distance and conditions in the proposed destination country. Disputes involving custody and relocation questions are typically resolved by courts in the state or country of a child’s habitual residence.
Our attorneys regularly work on cases involving international relocation or abduction of children, and we can help advise on the various options available to parents, including consideration of the criminal and financial (tort) claim exposure that might arise in these situations. Our attorneys also are adept at putting together agreement terms that help protect against unwanted child abduction from the United States.
To consult with a member of our International Divorce and Family Law team about an issue related to International Custody and Visitation or Parental Abduction, contact us.
Divorce Litigation in Two Countries
While the international community has tried to streamline the judicial process when it comes to divorcing across borders, primarily through the Hague Conference on Private International Law, this is still an extremely complicated process, especially for parents living outside of their home country. The issues can be even more complex for a divorcing American who is a dual citizen, living abroad or married to a citizen of another country.
Many of our clients come to us because they need help cutting through red tape, removing financial obstructions and understanding the cultural differences and the rules and practices of foreign court systems. These situations often involve custody issues, complex property or alimony issue, and high levels of conflict. They can require litigation in the U.S., in another country or both.
It is often a surprise to our clients to learn that a spouse’s American citizenship does not guarantee the right to file for a U.S. divorce, especially if the parties are living outside of the United States. Similarly, in some cases a non-citizen may be able to obtain a divorce in their own country even if their spouse is American and lives in the United States. The rules on what court can decide divorce, custody, alimony and property division – and which country’s law applies to decide these issues – can be extremely complex and differ from country to country.
Clients appreciate our understanding of these rules and complexities, and our ability to outline the range of potential options and outcomes. Our team has consistently delivered desired outcomes to our clients in these situations and have found that we can deliver the most cost-effective solutions to clients who come to us early in the process, especially when they may be subject to divorce, custody, or financial actions in more than one country.
To consult with a member of our International Divorce and Family Law team about an issue related to Divorce Litigation in two countries, contact us.
Expert Witness Services
Our team members are frequently called upon to provide expert witness testimony in matters involving international child abduction prevention, international child abduction recovery, international divorce jurisdiction and international family law issues in general, including complex property distribution and pension issues.
To consult with a member of our International Divorce and Family team about our Expert Witness Services, contact us.
Foreign-located Marital Assets
Our members are experienced in determining which foreign-based assets can be considered marital assets and locating those assets in a cost-effective and comprehensive manner. Foreign-located assets can arise when:
- A spouse was not born in the U.S.
- A marriage was not performed in the U.S.
- A couple was married abroad and later moved to the U.S. to work
- Parties lived abroad together at one time or when a spouse is from another country, but later moved to the U.S. with their spouse
- A spouse worked abroad in the past and has retirement benefits (abroad)
Whatever the situation may be, cases like these can be quite difficult to litigate. The way property located in a foreign country will be divided often depends on where the international property is located and the nature of the property. Our team helps U.S. citizens and legal residents of Washington D.C., Maryland or Virginia to locate real estate, personal property, bank accounts, stocks, retirement and other valuable assets outside the U.S. Clients appreciate our counsel regarding which court might give the best outcome in the potential division of these community assets.
To consult with a member of our International Divorce and Family Law team, contact us.
International Alimony and Child Support Issues
The American legal system holds parents responsible for taking care of their child’s needs, regardless of where that child may be. In most cases, that means enforcing orders for support and visitation across state lines. By extension, the law intends that when a child is located or moves overseas, a parent’s support obligation continues.
The United States has implemented the 2007 Hague Convention on the International Recovery of Child Support and Other Forms of Family Maintenance (“2007 Hague Maintenance Convention”), which together with UIFSA 2008 provides a mechanism for custodial parents in the United States to collect child support from foreign parents, and for foreign custodial parents to collect child support from parents in the United States. This new Hague Convention process is extremely technical, and parents in the United States should carefully weigh their options in either seeking enforcement of a child support order outside the U.S. or in addressing a claim for child support from a parent in another country.
One question clients involved in a potential international alimony or child support dispute ask is whether a spouse can flee the country to avoid paying alimony or child support. In most cases, no one will be extradited for unpaid alimony or child support. However, failure to pay alimony or child support in the U.S. can lead to contempt of court charges, fines, notices on credit reports and liens against any assets in the U.S. These issues will be waiting for the non-paying spouse upon their return to the United States.
To consult with a member of our International Divorce and Family Law team about issues related to an International Alimony or Child Support, contact us.