How An Experienced International Divorce Lawyer Can Make Your International Divorce A Lot Less Complicated And A Lot Less Expensive

Domestic divorce is complicated enough. But international divorce, especially for couples with substantial assets, is uniquely complicated. 

For starters, you have to determine where you’re going to file and for what. For example, if mom and the children are in the United States, dad is living in China, and most of their property is also overseas, they’ll want to file for custody and support in the US because that’s where the kids live. But they may want to file to divide their property overseas. And if the marital property is in multiple countries, you have to choose which one in which to file.

Even then, once you’ve chosen, not all countries approach divorce proceedings the same way. While some are members of international treaties and do things in a somewhat uniformly accepted way, many are not. Many countries go about doing things their own way. Often, judges in the United States have to talk to judges in other countries to hash out the international issues themselves. 

What’s more, with simultaneous cases in different countries, and attorneys in the US and attorneys in other countries, the cost shoots up rather quickly.  

These foundational decisions are the sort of thing an experienced international divorce lawyer can and should weigh in on.

If you and your soon-to-be ex can come to an agreement about where to file for what with the help of an international family lawyer, that will help enormously. If it’s early in your path to divorce, seize the opportunity to make a few key cooperative decisions with your partner before heightened, hardened emotions make it impossible.

Otherwise, it can turn into a race to the courthouse… wherever the courthouse is. If you’re worried that your spouse is going to file in the wrong court, sometimes it can be very important to act fast and file immediately in the court you want to have jurisdiction in. Again, this is where you need the counsel of an international divorce lawyer.

You may need an international divorce lawyer who’s really really good at math.

International divorces involving a couple with substantial assets in multiple countries create a perfect storm for suspicion. He lives here, she lives there, properties all over the place, and the distance between them makes them all the more convinced the other is doing something that’s not entirely legal. It’s not uncommon. However, most of the time when one spouse suspects the other of hiding assets, even domestically, it’s not the case. At the very least, you have to do some basic homework before jumping to conclusions and spending money you don’t have to spend.

I was recently approached by a man convinced that his wife, who lived in another country, had taken lots of cash overseas and had accounts overseas that would never be discovered. Fortunately, he had made one critically smart decision: to interview multiple attorneys. As it turned out, multiple international divorce attorneys all suggested he work with them and their private detective and forensic accountant and other sundry professionals. My response was: first, let’s do the math. The wife had made all her money in the US, all W-2 income which is notoriously hard to hide. So if there is little to no difference between what came in on the cash returns plus whatever growth has accrued on that money when compared with what they have now, there’s no need to hire anyone to investigate anything. That’s what we discovered. Nothing was missing.

Candidly, I love this part of my job. This is the roll up the sleeves, pour a cup of coffee, get out the calculator and get to work part of my job. I’m good at math, good at accounting, it’s why I loved my work as a securities litigator. Numbers don’t lie.

But if something had been missing after poring through their accounts, I would never hire an expert and simply turn them loose. I’d guide them to strictly get very specific information. These are expensive professionals, and nobody should know your case better than your attorney. Nobody.

How this international family lawyer would advise everyone who has an international love interest.

Get a prenup. Though a prenuptial agreement is helpful with even the simplest divorces, if you’re going into a marriage with substantial assets especially international assets, it’s critical. 

And for the record, most people don’t challenge a prenup. At least not in our experience. If and when they do, they tend to say either they didn’t understand what they were signing or they signed under duress. This is why we have a court reporter present when the prenup is signed who directly asks both parties, “Do you understand the provisions? Are you under any kind of duress?” We think this has something to do with why the prenups we draft at Laughlin Legal have never been challenged. Not once.

Are you looking for a skilled international divorce lawyer?  

If you or someone you love is headed for divorce, learn more about how an experienced international family lawyer can best represent you and your values. Call us now at 650.343.3486 to schedule a consultation with us. If you’d prefer, you can email us to set up your appointment. If we miss your call, we will respond promptly and call you back as soon as possible. 

Laughlin Legal Family Law Group

You’ve never been better protected.

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