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Dual citizenship can complicate divorce

We may live in the nation's heartland, a mile high in the mountains, but Denver is also linked to the world. Many of our residents enjoy international ties through dual citizenship or international marriage. Anyone who is a dual citizen or anyone married to a dual citizen, can expect to face more problems than normal when going through a divorce. It's important for these people to have a full understanding of their legal rights to make better legal decisions about their divorce.

The key factor to remember regarding divorce is that jurisdiction will usually be determined by where one lives, not what country one is a citizen of. European nations and the United States tend to handle divorce issues more cooperatively than places like the Middle East and North Africa where laws tend to favor husbands' rights. Another factor may be speed. In many cases, the person who files first will determine where a divorce will proceed.

The Hague Conference on Private International Law has tried to streamline divorce across international borders. However, issues like child custody and division of property can still be a problem. The court deciding the divorce has the power to award child custody and to divide property, even if that property is overseas. And if one spouse abducts a child and goes to another county, or if one spouse living abroad refuses to give up property there, it may be difficult to enforce orders.

What all this points to is that anyone considering marriage -- whether to someone from their home town or another country -- can be caught by surprise if they enter the relationship without first having an understanding of the legal ramifications.

Source: Reuters, "Divorce in two countries is double the trouble," Geoff Williams, Oct. 24, 2012

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