FAQ: If I was married overseas and want to get a divorce, what legal documents do I need?

Going through a divorce is not easy and is often a daunting process. It is stressful and upsetting to both parties involved. Taking the steps towards filing for a divorce can be confusing, especially when you were married overseas. Follow these steps on obtaining the right legal documents to file for divorce when you were married overseas.

  • First, be sure your marriage was legal in the location the marriage took place. Many times, the marriage may not be legally recognized if it was not performed correctly.
  • Research yourself the long-arm statue in your location. This will be a necessary step if your spouse does not agree to the divorce and if they live out of state or overseas. If your location allows for personal jurisdiction over your spouse then you will be able to get a divorce, however, if you cannot obtain personal jurisdiction over your spouse, you may not be granted permission to pursue a divorce.
  • Obtain a divorce petition form from your local county clerk. Your county clerk should also explain what information you will need to put in the petition. Common information includes custody arrangements and other personal settlements like money or residencies. You will also have to include information about your marriage such as location and date.
  • Next, file for a summons for both yourself and one to be sent to your spouse. This will tell your spouse of the divorce hearing so they are aware of the date and time of the court proceedings. If the divorce is a mutual want, you can prepare an affidavit to waive the service of process and you and your spouse can both sign in agreement.
  • If your spouse speaks another language, be sure that all paperwork is prepared and sent to them in both English and their natural language. Your spouse must sign all paperwork to move forward. You will need to send a divorce petition, copy of your marriage certificate, and the divorce summons/waiver of affidavit. The court will send this to your spouse overseas.
  • Once all parties have signed all paperwork and presented it to the court, the divorce should be granted.

Be sure to research your marriage to ensure its legitimacy before contacting the courts. Once you are sure your marriage is legal, you can proceed with the steps to acquire all of the required documents you will need to divorce someone with an overseas marriage. For help obtaining a U.S. marriage certificate, you can order online from VitalChek for speedy and reliable service.


  1. I never knew that you had to make sure that your marriage was legal if you are trying to get a divorce. I had a friend that had to go through the divorce process, and they were always busy finding something. I will have to ask him and see if they had it done legally, or if they found out it wasn’t. http://www.bayareadivorce.org

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