Can You Apply Foreign Divorce Laws in a Florida Divorce? Orlando Divorce Lawyer
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Can You Apply Foreign Divorce Laws in a Florida Divorce?


Couples seeking a Florida divorce encounter various challenges. For example, an individual may face challenges if they wish to apply the laws of a foreign country to their divorce proceedings. Suppose you and your spouse got married in another country, and you have a prenuptial agreement that contains some terms and conditions that contradict Florida law. In such a case, challenges may arise if you and/or your spouse wish to enforce the prenup. In a situation where someone wishes to apply foreign divorce laws in a Florida divorce, courts reserve the right to overrule the provisions in the agreement in question if those provisions contradict the state’s strong public policy or are considered unreasonable or unjust. Read on for more on applying foreign divorce laws in a Florida divorce.

Understanding Choice of Law Provisions

A choice of law provision allows people to decide which jurisdiction’s laws will govern their agreement and any issues that may arise from it. When it comes to marriage and divorce, choice of law provisions are clauses within marital agreements, such as prenuptial agreements, where couples specify the jurisdiction whose laws will govern their marriage or divorce. For example, couples can include provisions related to alimony, property division, and other matters in a marital agreement. However, the state of Florida is very cautious about these provisions when it comes to divorce matters. Even if a couple has decided that the law(s) of another country will govern their divorce, the court can override the foreign law(s) depending on the situation.

What Does Florida Law Say About Applying Foreign Divorce Laws in a Florida Divorce?

According to Florida Statute 61.041, if a contract includes a choice of law provision and a couple has chosen the law(s) of a foreign country, an attempt to apply the law(s) of the foreign country is void if it contradicts the strong public policy of Florida, or if the law is unreasonable or unjust. In other words, individuals looking to get a Florida divorce pursuant to a choice of law provision in a contract choosing the law of a foreign country are not automatically able to avail themselves of the foreign country’s law(s) if the court determines that the foreign law(s) contradict the state’s strong public policy or are unreasonable or unjust.

Basically, Florida courts use two key factors to determine if a foreign law should be applied to a Florida divorce. The first factor courts use is the concept of public policy. “Public policy” is the values and principles a society considers essential to its welfare and well-being. For example, a contract that goes against a principal like equitable distribution of marital assets and liabilities may be unenforceable.

Second, Florida courts consider whether the foreign law(s) are unreasonable or unjust. If the foreign law(s) produces an outcome that the court finds impractical or unfair, it can declare the application of the law(s) void. When it comes to assessing the fairness of foreign laws, courts consider the specific circumstances of every case. A chosen foreign law may be unfair in one case and fair in another.

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