Generally speaking, a divorce obtained in another state will also be recognized in Texas based on the guiding principal of “comity,” or courtesy and consideration. But what if your divorce was granted in a foreign land?
The United States is not party to any treaties that requires courts here to recognize a divorce decree in a foreign land. Because the principle of comity is still important, however, many foreign divorces will be recognized in this country as long as:
- Both parties were properly served with notice of the pending proceedings (so that they could object or defend their interests)
- Both parties had an opportunity to be heard during the proceedings, if they so desire
- At least one party to the divorce was a resident of the United States at the time of the proceedings
That last rule may not be applied in all states, but it is commonly used to prevent “forum shopping” by people seeking to circumvent the process of a divorce in the United States in order to get a “quickie” divorce.
Because each state is left to its own decisions on the issue, there can often be complications.
This may particularly be true in Texas. In 2017, Texas Governor Greg Abbot signed House Bill 45 into law. Commonly heralded as an “anti-Sharia” law and known as “American Law for American Courts,” the new law is designed to shield people in family court cases from situations where their constitutional rights might be violated or public policy might be thwarted in family legal cases under a foreign ruling.
If your divorce was granted in a foreign land and you want it to be recognized in Texas — or wish to fight the ruling — it’s more important than ever to speak with an attorney who can help you explore all your legal options.