How to File for Divorce If You Got Married Overseas

By Mike Broemmel

Updated June 13, 2017

Mature man toying with gold wedding ring on finger

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The laws of all U.S. states permit you to obtain a divorce even if your marriage occurred overseas. The only caveat is that the foreign marriage must be valid pursuant to the laws of the country where it occurred, according to the American Bar Association Section of Family Law. The procedures for ending a foreign divorce in the United States are not vastly different from terminating a marriage entered into under the laws of any jurisdiction in the country.

Go to the office of the court clerk in the county where either you or your spouse reside.

Obtain a petition for divorce form. In some locations the document is a complaint for divorce form. Make certain you receive the instructions to complete the form from the clerk. Keep in mind that nearly all court clerks maintain basic forms for use by people interested in divorcing who are not represented by attorneys.

Also Read: What Can Happen to Me if I Remarry Before Getting a Divorce?

Complete the divorce petition form. One section requires basic information about when and where you wed. In this portion of the petition for divorce, set forth the country, region and locality where you wed, depending on how the country's political structure is designed. Include the date of the wedding as well.

Attach to the petition the license or certificate issued by the foreign governmental authority confirming your wedding, if that document is available. Providing this documentation is not absolutely necessary. Nonetheless, it conveys information to the court about the foreign marriage through official documentation.

File the petition for divorce, with the recommended attachment, with the clerk of the court.


Although terminating a foreign marriage likely will not present any overly significant challenges, even a basic termination of a domestic marriage is complex. Therefore, consider engaging the services of an attorney to represent your interests. The American Bar Association provides contact information for state and local bar associations. In turn, these groups provide directories of attorneys that practice in different areas of the law, including divorce matters.


You must satisfy basic residency requirements in order to file for divorce. Most state statutes require you to reside not only in the state itself but also the county where you intend to file for a specific period of time. These time periods vary from location to location. You can confirm residency requirements through the American Bar Association or the statutes of your state maintained by your state legislature's website.