Expat marriage while living abroadLife happens- even when traveling and living abroad. This, of course, opens the door to a number of life-altering changes, including marriage and divorce. Unfortunately, legitimizing your marriage or divorce in the eyes of the U.S government can be difficult. Marriage and divorce requirements will vary from one country to the next, but the following will provide U.S citizens with an understanding of the most common requirements for divorce and marriage across the world.

Getting Married Abroad

U.S embassies are not able to perform marriages in foreign countries. However, as long as you abide by the laws of your host country in regards to obtaining a marriage contract, the marriage can be performed by a civil or religious leader and recognized in your host country.

Countries have varying requirements when it comes to getting married, with some processes more lengthy than others. Some of the main requirements that you are likely to encounter include: 

  • A blood test: Some countries may require a premarital blood test for venereal diseases or genetic disorders such as sickle-cell anemia. Some countries may refuse to issue a marriage license if either party tests positive, but most countries simply require this test in order to inform both parties that the disease or genetic disorder is present
  • Meeting a minimum age requirement: This minimum age requirement will vary from country to country, but the typical minimum age requirement is 18. For a full list of minimum age requirement by country, come explore this article.
  • Parental consent: Those who fall under the minimum age requirement for marriage are required to obtain parental consent in order to obtain a marriage license. However, in cases where parental content in unattainable, consent may be obtained from the court in which the marriage license will be obtained.
  • Documentation stating the end of a previous relationship: Those who were previously married may be required to provide documented proof of the end of the previous marriage, such as a death certificate or divorce papers.
  • An affidavit of eligibility for marriage: Some countries require an affidavit by both parties in order to validate the marriage. While this type of government-issued documentation is not available in the U.S, an affidavit may be issued at the closest U.S embassy.

If you're wondering if your marriage will be valid inside the US when you get married abroad, the US Department of State suggests the following:

If you get married abroad and need to know if your marriage will be recognized in the United States and what documentation may be needed, contact the office of the Attorney General of your state of residence in the United States.

It should also be noted that marrying a non-U.S citizen outside the U.S can have some confusing tax implications, largely due to the fact that U.S citizens are subject to the provisions of the Internal Revenue Code, even when they live outside of the U.S.

For more on marriage abroad, here are a few articles on marriage policies for the most common destinations for American expats:

Marriage in Saudi Arabia | Marriage in Australia | Marriage in Singapore
Marriage and Divorce in China | Marriage in Thailand | Marriage and Divorce in Canada

Also see: Top 3 Places to Raise Children as an Expat

Getting Divorced Abroad

The international divorce process as a U.S citizen is a little less clear than international marriage. There is no treaty that requires the U.S to recognize divorces that occur in any other country. Instead, each state has the authority to decide whether or not it will recognize the divorce. However, a divorce is usually recognized in any U.S state if both parties were given fair notice of the divorce proceedings and were given an opportunity to speak and be heard during these proceedings.

For more information on the validity of a foreign divorce, contact the office of the Attorney General in your home state, or visit any of the following resources for more information on obtaining a divorce in the most popular host countries for U.S expats: 

Divorce in Saudi Arabia Divorce in Australia Divorce in Singapore
Divorce in Thailand | 10 FAQs for Expat Divorces in the UAE

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