The divorce process can be an extremely stressful and difficult time for both estranged spouses involved. However, in cases where one spouse is a foreign national, especially if that spouse has returned to his or her hoe country before the divorce is final, the divorce process can be even more taxing. If you have sponsored your estranged spouse’s immigration application, it is possible to obtain a divorce, even if your estranged spouse has left the United States. Below is a very general outline of the steps necessary to initiate divorce proceedings against your foreign national spouse. Although the general steps to initiate divorce proceedings are outlined below, due to the complex nature of divorce, the issues concerning immigration, and the added complexity of serving a spouse with legal process in another country, it is important to not only engage the services of a talented divorce attorney, but to seek the advice of an immigration attorney or an attorney experienced in international law as well.
First, visit the U.S. Department of State website and review the rules for serving process in foreign countries. The rules of each country are different depending on the country’s relationship with the U.S. Generally, for a U.S. court to deem service valid, it must be valid in the country in which the foreign national spouse lives.
Second, work with your attorney to complete the paperwork necessary to initiate your divorce, such as the Petition for Divorce and financial affidavits.
Third, file the petition with the clerk of the court in the county in which you live.
Finally, serve your spouse with the Divorce Petition according to the rules for service in your state and in the foreign country in question. After service of process is made, the remainder of the divorce process is similar to what would occur if both you and your spouse were U.S. residents.