Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Divorce Abroad

Hi Everyone, It is no surprise that expat divorce abroad is a hot topic. We get regular emails about this and we also see regular comments and articles on this topic elsewhere. Sad, but true.

If your relationship has not broken up abroad, chances are, you know someone's whose has. If you/they are looking for some recent information about divorce abroad, try some of these articles:

(1) Expat Confession: Divorce Abroad - this was one of the most-clicked-on features last October when it featured;

(2) Divorce Overseas: 10 Steps To Protect Your Children, by Frank Arndt, which is featured on our home page this month.

Marilyn Stowe has actually added some additional opinion to the bottom of this article since we first posted it, including:

"I also do not see why the employer who requires the move abroad, shouldn’t pay for such an agreement to be put in place, in the same way as the employment contract."

(3) We have also just published Divorce and You on our site, thanks to Divorce Coach Nicola Baume. Nicola's three-step article recovery article helps at home and abroad;

And/or try these articles that we saw on our Google Alert last week:

(4) Expat Divorce 'Simple' Says Leading Law Firm - Woolley & Co.; &

(5) Did Becoming A Shanghai Expat Ruin Your Marriage? - on Shanghaiist.com. If you are in Shanghai and have been through an expat break-up, Karen Mazurkewich is looking for you...

"Expats live in a parallel universe. While they are culturally fish-out-of-water they can also live glamorous lifestyles. And while it can be a great experience for some, there is also a dark side to expat life. I’d like to further explore the issue by asking the simple question: Can marriages survive the expat life?"

If you are going through a break-up abroad, we send our best wishes your way. Wishing you strength, Andrea.

24 comments:

Anonymous said...

I am an american living in Australia. I married and divorced an Aussie once upon a time. 7 years post divorce, I am still living in Aus despite the on-going drama his alcholism/bi-polar brings to mine and my childrens lives. In Aus its considered OK and not a reason to protect children. A year ago, I started proceedings to take my children - ages 13 and 9 - back to home. I have given up fighting the system here and just came to peace with the fact that the Aus law will not protect me or my children. We desperatly need the assistance of my family coupled with the fact that my ex does nothing to help - physically, emotionally or financially - to raise our children. The judicial system in Aus is very very very weak and does not see my situation as critcal. I should win - although it will take still another year or two. For those who think Aus is a great country - trust me - if you have any reason to deal with domestic violence here - god forbid - they are years and years behind. Sometimes I feel that I might as well live in Iraq - or jail. If there is ANYONE out there in my situtation, pls stand up as I have NEVER met anyone.

Anonymous said...

I hear you. Trying to divorce in Italy is much the same. I have become a prisoner in a foreign country, with a husband that thinks abuse is ok, and even with a divorce (which I am proceeding with now) I still have no rights, cant take my baby home to Australia, and I am only 27 years old.
I think there are many people in our circumstance, many just stay in unhappy marriages because they know there is no choice - loose your kids and go home, or accept an unhappy marriage, but financial security with your babies.
not fair though, and very very sad for all of us.

Anonymous said...

Hi everyone. I'm American and getting divorced in France. I just need other divorced women with children to form support and activity group. I'm stuck here because I don't have the money to fight. I'm homesick but must accept that I will have to stay in France. It's pretty lonely and I'll be in Paris all summer. Looking for friends with kids. My daughter is 8. Thanks

Anonymous said...

I am living abroad in a situation that is becoming increasingly untenable. My husband has a history of severe anxiety problems, has gone off his medication (mental illnesses like anxiety/depression are not taken seriously here), and has taken to drinking instead. I do not have a work permit and have no money of my own. We have two children and there is no way he would let me take them back to our home country. And now, God help me, I am pregnant and he is worse, even accusing me of faking being sick with pregnancy symptoms. This is a nightmare.

Anonymous said...

I'm a British expat living in suburbs of Montreal. Only married last yr, known him for 6 yrs and as of last Dec his temper has increased and yesterday he threatened to kill our animals with a shovel in front of me if I didn't do what he said. So obviously we are getting a divorce, no question about it. I'm a new permanent resident and currently unemployed, he owns the house, so I feel a very long way from home.. 3.5 thousand miles away, to deal with all this. I can see myself settling in another city (not French) but right now it just seems impossible. I have great respect for any woman going through something similar anywhere in the world, but with children in tow. I only have a dog, but I'm thankful that I have her. Support forums like this are incredibly valuable, we are not alone!

Anonymous said...

I am in the process of divorcing my husband of 7 years. He is French and I am American ( no kids yet). I am able to work here in France because of residency given to me by our marriage. I don't wish to return to the US but am concerned about how I will be able to stay on. I have been living in France for several years and feel at home here. Although I never took into account that losing my marriage would also mean losing my friends, his family, and basically the entire support system that I had here. My family is far away but I am determined to rebuild my life in Paris. Good luck to all of you!

Anonymous said...

Good luck to you too - here in Quebec once you have attained your permanent resident status, through marriage or otherwise, you can stay regardless of whether you stay married or divorce, check the French immigration website for details relevant to your situation. I totally understand what you are going through and I have lost all forms of support here by divorcing, but it's just a phase, a tough time ahead but also a fresh start and great opportunity to meet new people and live life the way I want to. As my mum always says, take a look around you, you're not on your own. Better to leave a relationship that's not working than be unhappy for the rest of your life. It takes courage to do this alone a long way from home, but we are stronger than we give ourselves credit for, time to dig deep.

cassy said...

I am Australian living in America...and it seems the problems are global. You cannot blame the rules and regulations of one country. My family are all in Australia and my husband chooses not to return. My children are 9 & 7. I cannot take them out of the state let alone the country without his permission and I too feel like a prisoner - that alone led to the demise of our marriage. The bottom line is "we chose to move" and now we have to live with the consequences. Accept your reality and make the most of your life. You only have one.

Anonymous said...

While this blog and the associated links have some very good and helpful content, my situation seems a bit backwards from many of the women posting here.

I am an american expatriot living with my husband and two daughters in switzerland. Mz husband is physically and verbally abusive, and has worked 9 months of the last 10 years.

I am the working member of the family who is financially responsible for our family. He chooses to be very combatitive with me and every day expresses how much he hates Switzerland. He refuses to interact with the school, or address any day to day paperwork or other tasks. much of the housework is left undone, and I am expected to take care of everything on top of managing a career on a global team with at least a 60 hour work week. If i complain, it can lead to physical violence.

I have an appointment with a local attorney who specializes in family law this Friday. I need a divorce, because after 13 years with this man, the last 7 of them have been awful. I agreed to bring him with me to Switzerland because it was the only way at the time to get my children here with me.

I am not on assignment. I worked for my company for 10 years in the US, and they have transferred my tenure with the company and my pension to a permanent Swiss contract. I want to stay here with my children, He could not provide for them financially. However, I really need him out of our lives. the abuse is impacting all of us, and no matter what i try, there is no way to make our relationship bearable. He takes no responsibility to do anything, he just finds ways to blame me with every imperfection in our lives, and constantly uses foul language to my daughters to describe his opinion of them (like 5 to 8 times per day each child)

Has anyone on this forum been the female breadwinner seeking a divorce from her husband in a european country as an expat? Any suggestions or lessons learned would be greatly appreciated.

Anonymous said...

I'm a Swiss who returned after 12 years in the States, 10 of which married. After the divorce I moved back here with my daughter and the father's consent, but there is hardly a day where I don't question my decision. My daughter more and more resembles her dad in looks and personality, still misses him tremendously, and he seems to miss her more and more and though it's 2 years already since our move, she still feels American mostly and hasn't made any close friends yet. Yes I'd be living as a single mom abroad and it would be hard and lonely but the price my daughter seems to pay is very high, too, it seems. Any thoughts?

Victoria said...

What a supportive forum! I hope you are gaining valuable information, resources and strength from the other readers/those who have posted comments about being in similar situations. Divorce is painful and isolating enough but going through it in a foreign country seems to mean so much more is at stake. I can only suggest you all continue reaching out to others who can offer first hand advice and support - being able to vent and share your experiences is a great way to move forward. Secondly, ensure you leave no stone unturned in terms of understanding the local legalities and what you can and can not do. Rules change often and with a bit of digging and dogged determination you may find the answers you are looking for.

Divorce abroad often means the family is geographically separated. In response to the last comment: you feel guilty for denying your daughter contact to her father. If at all possible, try and view living in different countries as a small positive for your daughter - she will have access to two cultures, two languages (or more!) and 2 countries. But most importantly try not to beat yourself up about it. You have had to make a very tough decision and one that is right for you right now. Your daughter will be able to make her own decisions at some point and that may include living abroad. As another comment says: Accept your reality and make the most of your life. You only have one.

All the very best to all of you and keep up the good posts!

EW Girlfriend.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for your encouraging words, Victoria! And yes, it is really nice to know that we're not alone dealing with such issues.

brooke said...

My children and I have been abondonded in the uS with nothing to our names. I was married to a con man for 13 years. I am an australian living in the US, he has returned to Australia and just left us here with nothing.

My question is: how do you SERVE and American living abroad? I just want the process started, thats ALL! Please f anyone could offer me anything on how to do this i would be)and my children) so greatful.

Thanks, Brooke

Anonymous said...

I am from Belgium, married to a British man and we are currently living in North Africa. We have been expats for the past 10 years and married for 16. We have three children together who attend an international school. Our Marriage is and has been for the past 7 years in trouble. With every new posts there is a hope of patching things up... unfortunately it hasn't been the case and on the contrary things has been getting worse. We are ready for a divorce. I have no clue were to start, who to contact and in which country to file for divorce Belgium, England or North Africa any one out there in similar situation please advise?

Anonymous said...

I am an Australian who is married to an American. We have been together for 5 years and married for 2.5 years. Things have slowly started to deteriorate over the last two years he drinks a lot alone and his mental state just isn't all there anymore. I have recently moved back to Australia to start the separation period. However i am so frustrated with American law and the divorce process. Does anyone else have these issues?
Lucky there are no kids involved so i thought this would be an easy divorce but boy was i wrong.

Anonymous said...

I'm an expat in hong kong. I've a 1year old and 3 year old. My husband has anger issues and is getting increasingly physical in arguments with me. We basically live together with our kids but have no real relationship between us. I have no job for the last 4 years, so no income and don't own a house or have anywhere to go. I am so embarrassed I have let this happen to me, I can't tell my family or friends about our problems. I don't think I could earn enough to provide for my kids here or in the uk. So I feel I have absolutely no option but to try to avoid confrontation with my husband and continue on in
our sad marriage and hope that one day we start to like each other again.

Expat Women said...

Please, please reach out to someone in HK, or in the UK? Stay as strong as you can, but do not be afraid to ask people for help.

Anonymous said...

Hi, I am an English woman living in Paris and have been trying to get divorced for 4 years now. I have been offered a brilliant job in Asia and have spoken to my ex about it. We have two children and as we, as a family, have had the experience of living in Asia when the children were much young he does appreciate the positives of them going. My question is about the legal side of things - does anyone know what happens considering the divorce isn't finalized yet.

Expat Women said...

Sorry, no. :( Please try the resources listed in this original blog post and check with your local embassy? Good luck and best wishes. Andrea.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

Thanks very much for this post, I am a south african leaving in Switzerland and recently separated from my swiss husband. What an isolating experience, I suggest couenselling if you believe in it. my therapist was a pragmatist she had all handy adresses and contacts at hand like Eheschutz (Marriage protection centre that gives free advice). it is good to have emotional support, never stand alone but legal advice is needed too. ps my ex closed all joint accounts whilst we were in couples therapy even tried to spare me from my own accounts (with little money) from South Africa. Thanks to my individual therapist I later realised he had planned his smooth exit before and even during couples therapy. When I went to Eheschutz he got himself a lawyer all behind my back. I think it is a simple fact that during a marriage breakdown, we women we fall apart but men get in the pragmatism mode, so get a male in your team as well!

Anonymous said...

Am and have been an expat living abroad in Stockholm for 20 years now! After 13 years of marriage and a bitter divorce, and after having our three kids and his later infidelity (clichéed but he left me for a work colleague during a conference!), I managed to rise from the total fallout. Seven years post-divorce and MANY joint custody battles later (in which I desperately begged to go back home with our children with some kind of joint custody set-up), I quietly let go of that dream. It hurt (and still hurts) like hell that a decision I made out of a young and honest love for someone, became such an unprecedented destiny changer for me. But, there's the rub in this life. Best laid plans...In any case, I'd like to encourage all women and men going through this type of expat dilemma to find inner strength through your nearest and dearest, find faith in some life spirit and just find a way to get up and put one foot in front of the other, every morning. Slowly, and I mean slowly, but surely, your strength and resolve will come back. Don't lose life energy in legal battles. Yours and your childrens' life quality and sanity is more important!! Don't bet on your ex or his family anymore. Use social networks that only YOU have established; this way you can get some confidence in yourself back. If you can, find a job that makes you fulfilled (if only decently). My job has definitely kept me afloat when the situation was new and fresh (my kids were only 2,4 and 6 when he left me). But most importantly, through many smaller life lessons along this journey, I've managed to come back to my faith in God and seek actively for more spiritual guidance. Prayer works and it has definitely worked for me. If your spirit is not in God but elsewhere, seek that and find inner serenity. As the other poster said, your reality is what it is...keep moving forward and find love in the blessings of your children and Spirit. Love for yourself and for another can and will come again...even in your 'new' country or somewhere else in the world!

Anonymous said...

I'm an American, married to a Brit. We have a young school-aged child & live in SE Asia. We're getting divorced. He will stay in SE Asia to work, I will return to the US with our child. Things are amicable.

I'm trying to find resources for TCKs who are going through their parents' divorce. Has anyone seen children's books or guides for adults on co-parenting when living on different continents & the long-term implications for children? I'm really concerned about our daughter not having regular contact with her dad & what that will mean for her.

I'm not finding anything written directly for expat & expat children of divorce. Help?

Anonymous said...

I'm an American, married to a Brit. We have a young school-aged child & live in SE Asia. We're getting divorced. He will stay in SE Asia to work, I will return to the US with our child. Things are amicable.

I'm trying to find resources for TCKs who are going through their parents' divorce. Has anyone seen children's books or guides for adults on co-parenting when living on different continents & the long-term implications for children? I'm really concerned about our daughter not having regular contact with her dad & what that will mean for her.

I'm not finding anything written directly for expat & expat children of divorce. Help?

Expat Women said...

Hi there. I've just tweeted a call-out for this for you on @andreaexpat

I wish you strength during this difficult time. x

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