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Divorcing in California When Married Abroad

Posted by Ahluwalia Law Professional Corporation | May 25, 2017 | 0 Comments

A frequently asked question in my family law firm: “I am Hindu, married in India. Can I get a divorce here?”

In the years that I have been operating my law firm, the same questions have come up, time and time again. One of these common questions is regarding whether a couple can get a divorce here in the United States, if they were married in India. I'll answer this question here, and explain exactly why it is the case.

The short answer: Yes, you may get a divorce here in the U.S. even if you were married abroad. However, the specific ins and outs of the process depend on your local jurisdiction. Here in California, where I operate my family law firm, the issue is under the jurisdiction of local courts, as well as the inherent jurisdiction of California courts over citizens living here.

If you're in California and you are planning to file for divorce, you are in luck. California is a no-fault divorce state, which means you won't have to go through the process of specifying a reason or proving a wrongdoing on the part of your spouse.  By contrast, for example, in India, one can request default based on seven enumerated grounds for divorce per Hindu Marriage Act. In California, one has to just indicate that “irreconcilable difference” have arisen. It is very simple.

There are a few things that must be in place in order for you to divorce in California when married abroad:

  • You must have lived in California for at least 6 months, and you must have been a resident of the county you filed in for at least 3 months.
  • Your marriage must have been officially recognized by local jurisdiction in India (or other home country, if applicable).

In addition, you may have to complete a few extra steps due to possible language barriers:

  • If your marriage certificate is not in English, you should provide an English translation of it.
  • You must serve legal notice of the divorce proceedings to your spouse, whether they live in California or abroad. If the spouse is abroad, you have to serve the documents under different rules such as Hague Convention, if the country you are from is a signatory to it. One has make duplicates of all the paperwork—an English copy for US courts, and a translated copy for overseas courts.

The bottom line is, yes, you may obtain a divorce in California no matter where you were married.

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