New York Court Discusses the standard for Barring a Divorce in a Foreign Court

With the ever-expanding global economy, it is not uncommon for a married couple to reside in more than one country. If an international couple decides to end their marriage, which country has jurisdiction over a divorce action often becomes a point of contention. In a recent New York case in which the parties disputed whether Thailand or New York was the proper forum to proceed with a divorce, the court discussed the standard for enjoining a party from proceeding with a divorce action in a foreign court. If you or your spouse intend to seek a divorce internationally, it is prudent to speak with a trusted New York divorce attorney regarding what measures you can take to protect your rights.

Facts of the Case

Allegedly, the husband and the wife married in Thailand in March of 2012. They signed a prenuptial agreement on the same day as their marriage. The wife was a citizen of Thailand and Canada, and an overseas citizen of India, while the husband was a citizen of the United States. The couple resided in Thailand for five years and then moved to New York. Ultimately, there was a breakdown of the marriage. The wife filed a Hague petition seeking a declaration that the couple’s son was a resident of Thailand but ultimately conceded that New York had jurisdiction over child custody and support matters. The wife then filed a divorce petition in Thailand in August 2019.

It is reported that in October 2019, the husband filed a divorce action in New York, seeking, in part, a declaration that the prenuptial agreement was unenforceable. The husband also filed a motion in February 2020, seeking an order prohibiting the wife from proceeding with the Thai divorce action.

The Standard for Enjoining a Person from Seeking a Divorce in a Foreign Court

It is well-established that under New York law, an injunction preventing a party from pursuing an action in a foreign court will only be granted in cases in which there is a risk of a gross wrong being perpetrated on the foreign court or danger of fraud. Further, in cases in which a party aims to enjoin a person from seeking a foreign divorce, the courts will only intrude when a decree issued by a foreign court would be granted full faith and credit in the United States, regardless of whether there is a risk of impropriety.

Pursuant to the doctrine of comity, judgments of foreign countries are granted full faith and credit unless it is proven that the judgment violates a strong public policy or was procured through extrinsic fraud, which is defined as fraud committed outside of the subject controversy. In the subject case, the court noted that the husband had not produced any evidence of prejudice or fraud. Therefore, the court found that there was no basis to determine that the wife could not proceed with the Thai divorce and denied the husband’s motion.

Meet with an Experienced New York Divorce Attorney

The laws of other countries often do not provide the same protections for parties in a divorce action as the laws of the United States, and it is wise for anyone who may be involved in an international divorce to seek the counsel of an attorney. Ksenia Rudyuk is a skillful New York divorce attorney proficient at protecting the rights of her clients and will aggressively advocate on your behalf to help you strive for the best result available.  You can reach Ms. Rudyuk at 212-706-2001 or through the online form to set up a consultation.

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