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Can the US Court divorce a couple that got married in Mexico?

Los Angeles, CA |

My wife, who I married in Mexico in 2006, has filed for divorce in the US. Can the US Court divorce us? Both my wife and I are Mexicans, but I am now a US citizen and my wife is a US Permanent Resident. She moved out of the house this February (2010), and I decided to go back to Mexico. I've been living in Mexico since this April (2010), but she is still living in the US.

I received some divorce documents from her last week. What do I have to do with the divorce notice that I received? I do not have enough money right now to go back to the US or hire a lawyer. Please advise.

Attorney Answers 3


  1. Yes, given your facts, the court in the U.S. can process your divorce. The location where one gets married is irrelevant when it comes to divorce.

    If you were served properly with a Summons and Petition for Divorce, then you only have 30 days to file a Response in court if you disagree with the Petition.

    You can represent yourself, or seek free legal advice from a Pro Bono provider who can offer low-income individuals assistance. Good luck!


  2. Yes. She can get a divorce. You need immediate legal representation. I am not at all familiar with the Mexican judicial system. That being said, you need to contact local legal aid, your local bar association and the Mexican bar association. You also might contact other agencies for financial assistance. You have several legal issues and you need to file your answer in the proper time period to avoid a default judgment. Good luck.


  3. So long as one of you has lived in the state of California for 6 consecutive months prior to the filing of the petition, and for 3 consecutive months in the county in which the papers were filed, California is a proper jurisdiction for the case. If you were properly served, you will need to respond. Even if you were no properly served, you should respond because she may show the court the service was proper.

    If you do nothing, your case may be resolved by default, in which the court will grant your wife whatever she has requested in her papers. If you are both in agreement regarding your assets, debts, your minor children, and any other items/concerns involved in the divorce, you may be able to complete the divorce at very minimal cost. You can jointly hire an attorney to prepare the paper work or you can work through consulting attorneys.

    Since you cannot afford to come to the US, you should, at minimum, hire a representative (preferably an attorney) to handle the process for you. If you are contesting any or all issues in the divorce, your next most economical option may be mediation. You do not have to be present, physically, for mediation, you can appear by telephone or through online services such as Skype or ichat.

    Good luck.