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How Can I Get a Divorce When My Spouse is in Another Country?

Divorce is complicated enough when both parties are living in the same house. What happens when the parties are living in entirely different countries? At Akiona Law, we have experience with handling divorce matters for married couples spread across borders. In particular, we have dealt with cases frequently where one party is living in Washington state and the other party is living in Mexico.

So how does it work? The answer depends on your situation. Generally speaking, it is safe to assume that everything that normally happens in a divorce will continue to, but the process will also be longer, more expensive, and more complicated. That isn’t said to discourage you – it just is the reality of dealing with an international divorce. Just like any other divorce, there are ways to deal with it efficiently.

Your first step should be consulting with a family law attorney about your specific situation and the process you are about to embark on. If they are willing to be honest with you, they will provide you with a Case Assessment about the potential journey that lies ahead. They can then create a Case Plan that will help you understand how getting an international divorce technically works.

Once you have a family law attorney working on your side, they will file for divorce in the state you live in (in our case, Washington state.) Even if your spouse lives in another country, you will still follow the typical process for getting a divorce in Washington state. This formally begins with filing a Petition for the Dissolution of Marriage in the Washington state courts.

That brings us to the most complicated step of the process: serving your spouse. Once one party has filed with the courts asking for a divorce, the other party must be served with papers notifying them of the process. This is significantly more difficult to accomplish when the other party is in Mexico as opposed to four streets over.

If you and your spouse are divorcing on good terms, this step will be significantly easier. You can find a way to serve them directly, or potentially even have them sign a “Service Accepted” form that removes the need for personal service. If you are not divorcing on good terms, there is the potential to hire a server who will serve them in their home country directly. Work with your divorce attorney to find the most practical solution to this logistical hurdle.

At Akiona Law, we know that divorce is difficult no matter where your spouse is located. If you are looking for a family law firm valuing excellence, teamwork, and integrity, contact Akiona Law today! We are dedicated to caring for you in your time of crisis.