MEETING OPTIONS DURING THE CORONAVIRUS: The Law Offices of Peter Van Aulen understands your concerns regarding the spread of the Coronavirus, and now offers different meeting options to our clients and those seeking legal representation. All meetings, including initial consultations, can be handled either through the phone, FaceTime, Zoom, or in person.

Foreign Divorces

A foreign divorce can refer to a divorce in a state other than the one you live in or a divorce in another country. In the case of a divorce in a different state, recognition of that divorce in other states is relatively straightforward. Recognition of a divorce in another country, however, may be more complicated. If you have any questions in regard to New Jersey recognizing a divorce from another jurisdiction, you should consult with a knowledgeable divorce lawyer in NJ.

Out of State Divorce

With very few exceptions, all the states in the US will recognize divorce judgments from other states. The exceptions to this rule include judgments that are granted without notice to the other spouse, in which case no state will recognize the divorce.

Every state in the US has a jurisdictional (residency) requirement that must be satisfied if you wish to obtain a divorce in that state. The requirements vary from state to state, but generally either spouse must live in the state for a certain period of time; in New Jersey the requirement is one year while other states have 90-day residency rules. So long as the divorce was granted in a state that has jurisdiction over the case, and proper notice was given to the other spouse, New Jersey will enforce the divorce judgment. By way of example, if Wife lives in New Jersey and Husband lives in State X, and Husband meets the residency requirement for a State X divorce, State X may have jurisdiction over the divorce proceeding. Once the State X divorce judgment is granted, New Jersey will recognize the divorce.

Foreign Country Divorce

Comity is the legal principle that allows the United States to recognize the divorce judgments made in foreign countries. As with out of state divorces, a key to enforcing a foreign country divorce is adequate notice to both parties of the divorce proceeding. Additionally, as with out of state divorces the foreign divorce must have been granted in a country where at least one spouse was domiciled (living) at the time of the divorce.

The main question for a New Jersey court in determining whether to recognize a foreign divorce is whether both parties participated in the divorce process. Additionally, the foreign divorce must be in line with the public policy of the state of New Jersey.

An example of recognition of a foreign divorce in New Jersey is the case of Ali v. Ali. In Ali, the wife was America and husband Palestinian. The couple lived in Gaza with their son for several years and then separated with the wife moving to New Jersey and the husband and son staying in Gaza. Thereafter the husband and son moved to the US for two years and then returned to Gaza. In Gaza the husband obtained an ex parte divorce (without notice or participation by the wife), and an order of custody for the son.

The wife filed for divorce in New Jersey and argued that the Gaza divorce and custody judgment were not entitled to recognition in New Jersey, because they were ex parte and not based on the public policy of New Jersey. Specifically, the custody order in Gaza was based on Islamic law, which entitles a father to custody of his son when he is 7 years old, whereas New Jersey custody orders are based on the best interest of the child. The court agreed with the wife and did not recognize the Gaza custody agreement.

Quickie Divorces

Attempts at obtaining “quickie divorces” in other countries by one spouse without notice to the other spouse will be closely scrutinized and often not enforced by the state of New Jersey.

If you have questions about whether your divorce will be recognized in New Jersey, please call Peter Van Aulen a NJ divorce lawyer at 201-845-7400 for a free initial consultation.


Hilton v. Guyot, 159 U.S. 113 (1895)

Ali v. Ali, 279 N.J. Super. 154 (Ch. Div. 1994).

Client Reviews
Peter has integrity, and values his relationships with his clients beyond his financial relationship with them. For me to say this about any lawyer is really saying something. He is compassionate, straightforward and knowledgeable. I would easily recommend him to anybody. Lewie W.
Peter Van Aulen handled my case with great diligence and integrity. He is also a compassionate individual who realizes what a difficult time divorce can be emotionally. Peter works hard and doesn't take any shortcuts in preparing for a case… I highly recommend Mr. Van Aulen and his staff. Chuck Solomon
Peter is an exceptionally great attorney. He handled my child custody case and was able to ease any of my concerns with honest answers. He always took the time to explain the pros/cons and was always available to answer any questions that I had… I would highly recommend this attorney to anyone who is looking for one. Jessica Cruz
Peter Van Aulen is a very compassionate, honest and straightforward person. He was there for me at my lowest point with a genuine concern not only for my situation, but for me and my child's well being above all… He is fair and he is strong and when push comes to shove he is there for you. Cathy Dodge
Our cousin used Peter's law office to help with a sticky custody situation. He was extremely responsive, very nice and most importantly did an awesome job with the court! He is awesome. Lawrence Polsky

*Results may vary depending on your particular facts and legal circumstances