What You Need to Know About Divorce & Dual Citizenship

A divorce with children or a number of properties can complicate the process, but if one party is a dual citizen, things can get extremely complex. As international marriages climb in the United States, it is important to know about the rules that govern these relationships.

What Is Dual Citizenship?

The U.S. Department of State acknowledges that a person can be a citizen of 2 countries at the same time. A U.S. citizen may acquire foreign citizenship by marriage, or a person naturalized as a U.S. citizen may not lose the citizenship of the country of birth. Sometimes, dual citizenship happens automatically. For example, a child born in a foreign country to U.S. citizen parents may be both a U.S. citizen and a citizen of the country of birth. Dual nationals owe allegiance to both countries and are required to obey the laws of both.

Dual Citizenship & Divorce Issues

There are a number of factors that can be complicated by an international divorce, including child custody, property division and citizenship.

Child Custody

A child custody decision can vary widely, depending on the country the divorce is being sought in. Certain countries may favor the mother over the father to award custody to. American courts usually consider fathers equally in custody decisions.

Property Division

The division of a couple’s marital property can be more difficult when the divorce involves property in multiple countries. Often, jurisdiction can become an issue in property disputes such as these.

Immigration & Citizenship

Many people gain citizenship or immigrate to a new country through marriage. It is possible that a divorce may cause one spouse to lose their citizenship or immigrant status.


The country the divorce is handled in can affect the outcome of the divorce, and foreign divorces may not be recognized by some U.S. states. In particular, California does not honor an international divorce granted when both spouses are living in their home state. Typically, jurisdiction is determined by where the couple is living. In countries that favor the rights of men over the rights of women, it is possible that the terms of the divorce may be unfair.

Divorce and dual citizenship are complicated. If you want to learn more about your divorce, please contact me at the Law Offices of Jeffrey S. Graff today to discuss your case. I’m a Westlake Village divorce lawyer who can help guide you through this tedious process.

Call me at (805) 633-4999 or contact me online to schedule a free consultation.
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