Written by attorney Kelly Wenell

Will Missouri Recognize a Foreign Country Divorce Decree?

It depends. Matrimonial law is determined by each state, rather than the federal government. In Missouri, a state court may recognize a foreign country divorce decree under the discretionary legal principle of comity (meaning courtesy and considerate behavior toward others). The Missouri Divorce Statutes provide that a court in Missouri “shall treat a foreign country as a state of the United States" for purposes of recognizing the divorce decree. Like any document presented in court, a foreign divorce decree needs to be translated into English and “authenticated" or shown that it is a real divorce decree. The validity of the divorce decree can be confirmed by a Consulate Officer at the local U.S. Embassy.

In Missouri, an authenticated foreign country divorce decree is presumed valid. The burden lies upon the party challenging the decree’s validity in Missouri. There are certain elements of due process that must have been present at the time of divorce.

1.Both spouses must have received adequate notice of the filing of divorce.

2.There must be some physical presence on the part of at least one spouse within the jurisdiction (authority) of the court rendering the divorce, and

3.There must be some type of personal appearance or submission to the foreign court’s authority by the responding spouse (the spouse that is not seeking the divorce)

Additional resources provided by the author

Missouri Divorce Statute

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