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Why Do I Need an International Family Law Attorney in Texas?

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Laura D. Dale - Family Law - Super Lawyers

Answered by: Laura D. Dale

Located in Houston, TXLaura Dale & Associates, P.C.

Houston, TX
Phone: 713-364-0719
Fax: 713-600-1718

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International family law issues are complicated by the variations and interplay between laws of different countries, international treaties, local and foreign agencies, foreign and domestic courts, and differences in cultures. Family lawyers who do not regularly handle international family law cases generally have little knowledge of these factors and how they interact in international family law cases.

  • What happens when families move abroad – what law governs? Families are more mobile today. Globalization of the work force in recent decades makes it much more likely that families will live in foreign countries at some point in time during the husband’s and/or wife’s working career. Living as an expatriate can complicate matters arising under family law. Family lawyers with international family law experience can quickly assess jurisdictional issues regarding property and children, choice and conflicts regarding jurisdiction; valuation issues related to foreign property; the division of foreign assets, and so on.
  • What happens when in marriages between different nationals (international marriages)? Marriages between couples who are not from the same country are on the rise. This reality makes the choice of lawyers very important when it comes to family law conflicts between these couples. Differences in cultural and religious beliefs, and expectations based on these differences are areas where attorneys with international family law experience excel. Such individuals will want to rely on attorneys who, based on experience, can quickly provide advice regarding issues like divorce, custody, equitable distribution, child support, health care costs, spousal support and child abduction.
  • Will my prenuptial and postnuptial agreement be recognized in a foreign country? Such agreements become complex when it comes to international family law. Often couples wish to assure that prenuptial and postnuptial agreements will be enforceable or recognized in more than one country. Or, they want their marital agreements to be enforceable in a state in the USA. Experience counts in such situations. International family law attorneys are well-versed when it comes to whether or not these types of agreements will be enforced or even recognized in other particular country. Often, such agreements require collaboration with foreign counsel and it is important that the lawyer you chose not only has knowledge regarding international issues related to premarital agreements, but has a reservoir of experienced colleagues that he or she works with around the world on such issues.
  • Can we marry? Couples who are marrying again often need to affirm that a prior foreign divorce will be recognized. International family law attorneys can provide advice regarding such issues and can prepare affidavits of law and custom to assure that a foreign jurisdiction recognizes a divorce or that a state of this country will recognize a foreign divorce. For example, will religious divorces such as the Jewish rabbinic divorce (get) or the Islamic talaq be recognized in the United States? What about divorces in Japan, will they be recognized in Texas or will a Texas divorce be recognized in Japan? These are all questions that an experienced international family law attorney can answer.
  • What about divorce? When multicultural families divorce, an experienced international family law counsel can assist by offering counsel regarding: (1) the selection of the most advantageous forum for divorce; (2) issues related to conflict-of-law rules; (3) offering advice regarding “dos and don’ts” when it comes to international divorce; (4) formulating strategies for relocation or to prevent relocation to another country; (5) the protection of assets; and (6) the retention of local counsel among other critical issues in these types of cases.
  • What if I want to relocate and my spouse does not agree? Experienced international family law attorneys are crucial when it comes to relocation cases and other cases involving custody-related issues. Relocation cases are fact-intensive and require experience and careful preparation. Even when a court grants such a request, orders must be drafted so that they are recognized in foreign jurisdictions and are enforceable.
  • What do I do if my child has been abducted? If your child has been abducted it is imperative that you immediately contact a family law attorney who has international experience. Time is of the essence in these cases. If your child has been taken from the United States to a foreign country, an experienced family law attorney will help you: (1) file an Application for Return of Child with the US State Department if the child can be returned to you under the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction (Hague Convention); (2) provide expert testimony when needed; (3) coordinate with the Department of State’s Office of Children’s Issues; (4) help you find an attorney in the foreign jurisdiction; (5) assist foreign counsel with the preparation of affidavits and testimony to prove your case and eliminate defenses; (6) conduct legal research; (7) prepare and prosecute the custody proceedings in state where the child was habitually residing; (8) assist with the initiation of criminal proceedings against the abductor under federal law (the Parental Kidnapping Prevention Act) and state criminal law and take appropriate measures to encourage law enforcement authorities to issue warrants and take other actions; (9) coordinate efforts to prevent the abductor from fleeing to yet another jurisdiction; (10) coordinate with foreign counsel to court orders for the return of the child; help develop alternative strategies when the Hague Convention does not apply.

At Laura Dale & Associates, P.C., we have a broad range of experience across cultures and familiarity with foreign legal systems. We frequently receive referrals from other international family law attorneys and firms from around the world and we work with a worldwide network of international family law specialists. Timing and experience are important in these cases and it is best to consult with an experienced international family law team as quickly as possible to protect your rights and those of your children.

Disclaimer: The answer is intended to be for informational purposes only. It should not be relied on as legal advice, nor construed as a form of attorney-client relationship.

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