Determining Jurisdiction in an International Divorce

Determining Jurisdiction in an International Divorce

Determining Jurisdiction in an International Divorce

Going through a divorce is no doubt an emotionally taxing experience, and it can be even more complicated when the divorce involves family law issues that have crossed U.S. borders. So, how does one cut through the legal “red tape” of an international divorce? First, it’s essential to understand the basics of jurisdiction and how it may affect the process of your divorce.

What Is Jurisdiction?

Jurisdiction is when a court has the power to issue orders and arbitrate cases for particular situations. When it comes to international divorce and jurisdiction, two things need to be considered:

  1. Subject Matter Jurisdiction: This allows the court to hear certain cases involving international family law.

  1. Personal Jurisdiction: This allows the court to make decisions regarding one or more parties involved in a case.

How Does Personal Jurisdiction Work in Florida Courts?

If a Florida court lacks personal jurisdiction over both you and your spouse, a legal and binding divorce can still be entered if the following criteria have been met:

  • There is subject matter jurisdiction over the divorce

  • There is personal jurisdiction over one party

  • The other party is served through a recognized means of service

Common Complications with Jurisdiction and International Divorce

Depending on the particulars of your divorce, there may be more than one country that has jurisdiction in your international divorce case. The following are common scenarios in an international divorce that can be complicated:


When Florida courts limit the ability to handle specific matters regarding property, proceedings may be necessary for more than one jurisdiction. Your attorney can help you determine where it will be best to file the primary divorce and what other proceedings should be filed in another jurisdiction to settle issues related to property.


If minor children are involved, Florida courts will be able to exercise jurisdiction if specific requirements are met. However, if the conditions involving children are not met, the court may not be able to make determinations related to children even if the court has jurisdiction to dissolve the marriage and distribute property.

Child Support/Alimony

For Florida courts to be able to order a party to pay child support or alimony, they must have personal jurisdiction over the party that will be making the payments.

International family law can be extremely confusing, and adding stress on top of an already tense situation only makes going through the process more difficult. Having an experienced attorney that understands how to navigate the waters of international family law can make all the difference in alleviating your concerns. Contact Ilvento Law, P.A. today at (407) 898-0747 to learn more about how we can help you get through.

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