In an era when international travel, trade and communication is frequent and relatively easy, it's understandable that relationships can begin and develop between a California resident and someone from an entirely different country. However, in the event of divorce, working with a jurisdictional and child custody issue across international borders is often quite complex.
It's not uncommon for any family law issue to present unique challenges, yet the concept of dual-citizenship in relation to divorce presents legal questions that deserve special attention and care. This is mainly because the international regarding family law, child custody in particular, is not always clear cut when comparing individual cases.
Individuals who have dual citizenship have the right to occupy both of the countries in question. In the event of divorce, one spouse may choose to return to the other country. If that is the case, there is a serious question that may come up: Where will the children reside? It is one thing to work out a schedule for parents where one individual has the children every-other week or weekend. However, when parents are spread across multiple countries, sharing custody is most likely an unfeasible option.
Usually, the country in which the couple resides at the time of divorce will be the appropriate place to obtain a divorce order. However, there is no agreed upon international law that requires the United States or any other country to abide by another country's divorce ruling. While, the U.S. generally does honor international divorce rulings, there is no guarantee that will happen. In particular, California will not honor an international divorce granted when both spouses are "living in their home state."
When facing such complicated questions that involve divorce and dual citizenship, it is likely that couples will seek the advice and guidance of a trusted family law professional. This way, couples can feel comfortable that their divorce is settled in a way that treats all parties fairly.
Source: Forbes, "Small World, Big Problem: Divorces Involving Dual Citizenship," Jeff Landers, Jan. 10, 2013