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Can I get Divorced in Massachusetts if I was married in another country?

Assuming you are a resident of Massachusetts for 1 year, or you meet one of the other jurisdictional requirements to have your case heard in Massachusetts, the fact that your marriage was solemnized in another country will not usually make a difference.

With a few exceptions (such as going to a foreign jurisdiction to get married when you wouldn't be considered competent in MA), a foreign marriage is recognized as a legal marriage in MA so long as it is recognized as a legal marriage in the country of the marriage.  Under M.G.L. c. 207 s 36 you can file a foreign marriage certificate with your town clerk to have it recorded, if you want vital records to have a record of your marriage.

However, that usually isn't necessary in order to file a divorce.  You just have to file an original or a certified copy of the marriage certificate with the Complaint for Divorce.  If the original or certified copy is not in English then I would also recommend having a certified translation.

If you only have a copy of the marriage certificate with a certification or seal, you will need to obtain a certified copy of the certificate.  A regular copy won't be sufficient to obtain a divorce.  If you don't know anyone in the originating country that can contact a local clerk for you, then I would suggest starting with the embassy for that country to find out the best way to obtain a certified copy.

It may take a few weeks to get a certified copy, but if you need temporary orders due to some immediate concern then you may be able to get a Judge to allow your case to open by filing a Motion to Allow Filing of Certified Copy Late.  In the Motion you would explain why you need to be heard now, but can't obtain the certified copy right away.  If you convince a Judge that you are doing everything in your power to obtain the certified copy and will file it upon receipt, then the Judge may be willing to allow the divorce case to open and issue temporary orders.  Until the certified copy is filed, though, a Judge won't issue a final Judgment of Divorce.


Comments

  1. You should consult a lawyer in your area to find out about the residency requirements.

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