When an Illinois spouse files for divorce in another country

Divorce is never an easy process, but divorces involving spouses filing in different countries can be highly complicated. One recent Illinois case involves a couple who was married in India in early 1999 and moved to Illinois later that year. The couple had a daughter in Illinois and started a company here as well.

The husband alleges that during 2008 and 2009, his wife spent extended periods of time in India. He also alleges that she was living with another man during this time and representing herself as his wife.

The wife returned to Illinois from India on March 10, 2009 and the husband filed for dissolution of his marriage in India on March 14, 2009, alleging adultery and mental cruelty. Two days later the wife filed a petition for divorce in Will County, Illinois. The wife alleged that the couple had irreconcilable differences and also alleged that the husband was mentally cruel.

The husband filed a petition to dismiss the Illinois divorce proceeding arguing that there was already a divorce proceeding in India at the time.

Normally courts are quick to dismiss cases when there are previously filed parallel proceedings. This is not the case however when the parallel proceedings are divorce actions pending in different countries. This is because the full faith and credit clause of the Constitution does not require courts in Illinois to recognize decrees in other countries.

Duplicate litigation cannot be avoided in foreign divorce cases because divorce judgments are not automatically recognized in Illinois and the couple still needed to be formally divorced in the U.S. The court also noted that both individuals were residents of Illinois and that this state is where most of their property and child are. Additionally, the judges determined that it would be highly unfair to force the wife to litigate a divorce in a foreign country where neither she nor her soon-to-be ex husband live.

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