Divorce with an EX who lives outside the US


#1

Hi, after being married for 1.5 years, my ex and I split and have been living apart for more than two years now. We were married in both the US and in Bulgaria. We obtained a legal divorce in Bulgaria some time ago, but legally I have remained married in the US, due mostly to the fact that I have been moved for work often and many times did not meet the 6 month residency requirement to file a divorce in most states. I now have 6 months residency in NC and would like to file for divorce, however I do not know how. My ex and I have not communicated since the papers were filed in Bulgaria and she is not a citizen, nor was she, of the US. What is my best plan of action for completing my divorce?
Thanks,


#2

Marriage and divorce generally are considered matters reserved to the states rather than to the federal government. See, Sosna v. Iowa, 419 U.S. 393, 404 (1975) and Armstrong v. Armstrong, 508 F. 2d 348 (1st Cir. 1974 ). There is no treaty in force between the United States and any country on enforcement of judgments, including recognition of foreign divorces.
RECOGNITION BASED ON COMITY: A divorce decree issued in a foreign country generally is recognized in a state in the United States on the basis of comity (Hilton v. Guyot, 159 U.S. 113, 163-64 (1895), provided both parties to the divorce received adequate notice, i.e., service of process and, generally, provided one of the parties was a domiciliary in the foreign nation at the time of the divorce. Under the principle of comity, a divorce obtained in another country under the circumstances described above receives “full faith and credit” in all other states and countries that recognize divorce. Although full faith and credit may be given to an ex parte divorce decree, states usually consider the jurisdictional basis upon which the foreign decree is founded and may withhold full faith and credit if not satisfied regarding domicile in the foreign country. Many state courts which have addressed the question of a foreign divorce where both parties participate in the divorce proceedings but neither obtains domicile there have followed the view that such a divorce invalid (Weber v. Weber, 200 Neb. 659, 265 N.W.2d 436 (1978); Everett v. Everett, 345 So. 2d 586 (La. Ct. App. 1977); Kugler v. Haitian Tours, Inc., 120 N.J. Super. 260, 293 A.2d 706 (1972); Estate of Steffke v. Wisconsin Department of Revenue, 65 Wis.2d 199, 222 N.W.2d 628 (1974); Commonwealth v. Doughty, 187 Pa. Super. 499, 144 A.2d 521 (1958); Bobala v. Bobala, 68 Ohio App. 63, 33 N.E.2d 845 (1940); Golden v. Golden, 41 N.M. 356, 68 P.2d 928 (1937).
AUTHORITY COMPETENT TO DETERMINE VALIDITY OF FOREIGN DIVORCE IN A U.S. STATE: Questions regarding the validity of foreign divorces in particular states in the United States should be referred to the office of the Attorney General of the state in question. It may be necessary to retain the services of a private attorney if the office of the state Attorney General does not provide such assistance to private citizens. Provide counsel with copies of foreign marriage certificates, divorce decrees and copies of foreign laws concerning divorce which may be available from the foreign attorney who handled the divorce.

Unless the Bulgarian divorce recognized by the US your current marriage is void, and you are guilty of bigamy, which is still a crime in this State.