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How to Handle a Florida Divorce When Your Spouse is Overseas


Getting a divorce can be stressful enough, but it can become even more stressful when your soon-to-be ex doesn’t live in the United States. You might be wondering if this means you can’t proceed with the divorce. Even if your spouse tells you they are staying out of the country as a way of protesting the divorce, the truth is, you can still proceed with filing a petition for divorce.

There are additional steps involved in this situation, and it may be more expensive than if he or she were living in Florida, but you aren’t “stuck” in a marriage just because your spouse doesn’t live nearby. You should not attempt to handle this type of divorce on your own, however. It can be complex, and you need a Florida divorce attorney who is experienced with these types of cases.

Step 1: File Your Petition for Divorce Like Normal

It doesn’t matter where your ex is currently living, you are entitled to file with your local court that has proper jurisdiction. This is usually where you live, or in the county where the majority of your marital property is located.

Step 2: Locating Your Spouse

Perhaps you already know where your spouse is living abroad, which is the best-case scenario. The next step is “service of process,” and you will need to understand how to legally serve someone in whatever country your ex is living in. Tracking down the specific address is also key because you don’t want to wind up spending a bunch of money for international service of process only to discover you don’t have the right info. 

This where a Florida divorce attorney is so important. Your attorney will handle everything from tracking down the applicable international laws to hiring an investigator to get the correct address if necessary.

Step 3: Understand the Long Arm Statute

An experienced Florida divorce attorney will be familiar with what’s known as the “long arm statute.” This is the applicable statute that will allow your local court to have jurisdiction over a foreign defendant. The long arm statute looks at things like how much contact your spouse has with the state.

Step 4: Determining How to Serve

If you’re at this point, your attorney will look at the most effective manner to serve your spouse. Knowing whether your spouse is likely to be cooperative or avoid service is an important piece of information here. Your attorney will help you determine what the right course of action, whether it’s personal service, service by certified mail, service by publication, service through a central authority, waiver of service, or service by rogatory.

Step 5: Following Up 

Follow up is a key component of this process. You can’t just send all the documents abroad and assume he or she has been served. Your attorney will be the one to follow up and see that you are following the right rules and protocols, and that all your documents are properly prepared.

Contact a Florida Divorce Attorney

If you need assistance with a divorce involving a spouse who is outside of the United States, contact the Boca Raton divorce attorneys at the Law Offices of Schwartz | White today at 561-391-9943 to schedule an initial consultation.




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