Foreign Divorces in New Jersey
Experienced Divorce Lawyer in Bergen County, NJ
A foreign divorce can either be a divorce judgment in a state other than New Jersey or a divorce judgment from another country. A New Jersey Court will recognize a divorce judgment from another state if both sides had notice of the pending divorce action in the Sister State Courts and had an opportunity to appear and assert their position and participate in a trial, or default as to same. Recognition of a divorce from a country other than the United States, however, is typically more complicated because some foreign countries can grant a party a unilateral or a one-sided divorce without the participation of the other spouse. Moreover, some countries grant judgments of divorce without addressing support and equitable distributions, whereas a judgment of divorce in New Jersey always address same. Furthermore, some foreign countries enter judgments as to custody of children without a best interest analysis which New Jersey Courts do not.
If you have a divorce judgment from another state or another country, it is essential to understand if it is legally enforceable in New Jersey. In order to confirm and assert your rights within the jurisdiction of New Jersey, you need an experienced NJ divorce lawyer advocating for you. Rosa Elfant Rickett is a highly skilled New Jersey divorce attorney who has assisted clients with some of the most contentious and complex foreign family law matters, including international child custody disputes. Her knowledge of the law and dedication to fighting for her clients has earned her a reputation for enduring excellence. When you need a knowledgeable, responsive advocate to ensure that your interests are protected before, during, and after the divorce process, she is the lawyer you want on your side. With offices in Hackensack, The Elfant Rickett Law Firm serves clients in Paramus, Jersey City, Montclair, Ridgewood, North Bergen, and throughout New Jersey. For additional information and to arrange a consultation about the applicability of your foreign divorce in New Jersey, contact The Elfant Rickett law firm at (201)-968-5700.
Will a New Jersey Court Recognize my Divorce in Another State?
In the case of a divorce judgment from a state other than New Jersey, recognition of that divorce judgment should not be complicated pending that the Sister State afforded both litigants the Due Process of the Law. Due Process of the law usually includes, but is not limited, to advanced notice of a lawsuit, an opportunity to participate or waive a right to participate in a lawsuit, a right to have an attorney or a waiver of the right to have an attorney, a right to retain experts, a right to a trial or a waiver of a right to have a trial, and a right to confront or cross-examine the opposing party and witnesses. There is also no trial by ambush or surprise in New Jersey, which is why we have a discovery period in divorce matters during which witnesses must be announced and an opportunity must be provided to depose them (question them as to the pending lawsuit with a court reporter present recording the question and answer session).
Every state in the United States has a jurisdictional (residency) requirement that must be satisfied if you wish to obtain a divorce in that state. The requirements vary from state to state, but generally either spouse must live in the state for a certain period. in New Jersey the requirement is one year, unless the grounds for divorce asserted are adultery or an emergent reason.
I was Divorced in Another Country
Comity is the legal principle that allows the United States to recognize the divorce judgments made in other countries. We have a body of law on these principles which directs the New Jersey courts as to how foreign divorces must be handled. The main question for a New Jersey court in determining whether to recognize a foreign divorce is whether both parties participated in the divorce process. Additionally, the foreign divorce must be consistent with the public policies of the state of New Jersey.
An example of recognition of a foreign divorce in New Jersey is the case of Ali v. Ali. In Ali, the wife was American and the husband Palestinian. The couple lived in Gaza with their son for several years and then separated with the wife moving to New Jersey and the husband and son staying in Gaza. Thereafter, the husband and son moved to the US for two years and then returned to Gaza. In Gaza the husband obtained a unilateral divorce without notice or participation by the wife, and an order of custody for the son.
The wife filed for divorce in New Jersey and argued that the Gaza divorce and custody judgment were not entitled to recognition in New Jersey, because they were unilateral, did not afford her the Due Process of the Law as specified above, and not consistent with the public policies of New Jersey. Specifically, the custody order in Gaza was based on Islamic law, which entitles a father to custody of his son when he is 7 years old, whereas New Jersey custody orders are based on the best interest of the child. The court agreed with the wife and did not recognize the Gaza Judgment of Divorce or the custody related Foreign Order.