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Foreign divorces questioned

Texas recognizes a divorce granted in another state or country under the principle of comity which allows courtesy and consideration among states and nations. However, a new law may shed doubt on divorce decrees granted in foreign countries that violate due process or lack recognition of the constitutional rights of any person involved.

The law requires the state Supreme Court to draft rules which restrict these divorces. Many couples divorced in other countries may still have to seek a Texas divorce which would be recognized throughout the United States.

This restriction can impact recognition of foreign divorce decrees granted by nations that do not provide adequate legal rights to women. Foreign prenuptial agreements that do not have an equitable division of property may also be invalidated.

Other situations have involved women who were compelled into entering a partition and exchange document which splits up community property. Both spouses then individually own parts of that property and do not share income from community property. These agreements, however, may be unenforceable if a court determines that these were obtained under fraud or duress, are unreasonable or one spouse signed the agreement without understanding the document.

In one case still going through state court, a foreign spouse came to Texas after he divorced his spouse in another country. He started several businesses after being in Texas for several years. His wife ultimately came to Texas, claimed that the foreign divorce was invalid and demanded half of his earnings and property in this state.

Other issues cause further complications. Texas courts have difficulty awarding title on foreign property to either spouse in a divorce action where a foreign government does not recognize a Texas court order. Acquiring essential documents may be difficult from countries where there is fraud or inadequate legal protections for litigants.

A spouse should seek legal assistance to determine whether a Texas divorce is prudent, resolve property issues or to take other actions. An experienced attorney can help protect their rights.

Source: Texas Lawyer, "Surprise! The State of Texas does not recognize all foreign divorces," By Douglas R. York, Dec. 29, 2017

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