Best place to get married/divorced?
May 30, 2007 4:39 PM   Subscribe

Where is the best place in the world to get married in terms of most favorable property settlement and alimony laws to the primary provider in the event of a divorce? Just wondering. (No I'm not planning on finding some Tanzanian girl to marry)

Also if you get married in another country and move to the favorable country and get divorced there, do the laws of the new country apply to the divorce?
posted by zaebiz to Human Relations (20 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I am a lawyer, but I am not your lawyer, and this is mere BS legalfilter and not actual legal advice.

That said, your place of marriage probably isn't going to have as much bearing on the applicable law as the place where you reside during your marriage, or the place where you reside while you're getting a divorce.

And actually, this implicates a couple of fat, complicated bodies of law-- Conflict of Laws and Jurisdiction-- which I don't have enough brain cells to gloss out for you at the moment. I'll try to do it later, if you don't get a good response in a few hours.

The best, simplest thing to do may be to expressly elect the applicable law in a pre-nup agreement.
posted by palmcorder_yajna at 4:53 PM on May 30, 2007

Just to save anybody the trouble of putting up legal disclaimers - I hereby absolve anybody from any legal responsibility for any reliance I make on any advice given on this thread. Furthermore I understand that to rely on any information presented on this forum without seeking outside confirming legal advice would constitute complete and utter f**king idiocy on my part. Thanks.

PS Pre-nups aren't real romantic. I'd prefer avoiding that altogether if possible?
posted by zaebiz at 5:08 PM on May 30, 2007

zaebiz, if you already have someone in mind to marry and you are feeling the need to ask this sort of question I recommend you rethink getting married. If you cannot trust the woman, or you already think there is a risk of divorce, you shouldn't marry her, and if you simply don't see the value of the contribution of a homemaking spouse, she should not marry YOU. (All gender pronouns assumed, change as required.)
posted by konolia at 5:13 PM on May 30, 2007

konolia: "zaebiz, if you already have someone in mind to marry and you are feeling the need to ask this sort of question I recommend you rethink getting married. "

No. Nobody in mind. What does concern me though is the case where nobody is the homemaker and both have jobs but one person earn many times more than the other through investments and whatever else.
posted by zaebiz at 5:16 PM on May 30, 2007

If the primary provider is the man, there are still places way out in rural Pakistan and other religiously conservative areas, where the wife still isn't considered much more than property of the provider, and murder is a form of divorce from which a husband will typically face few or no repercussions.

How low do you want to go? :)
posted by -harlequin- at 5:18 PM on May 30, 2007

"What does concern me though is the case where nobody is the homemaker and both have jobs but one person earn many times more than the other through investments and whatever else."

If "one person" in a marriage is earning money through investments, then they both are. This is sort of the point of marriage: pooling resources. Each person contributes to the marriage, and both benefit. Many of the benefits are not quantifiable, and it's a mistake to value the ones that are quantifiable (such as money) over the ones that aren't (such as, I dunno, joy, and comfort, and kindness).
posted by hot soup girl at 5:40 PM on May 30, 2007

I apologise; that wasn't really answering the question.
posted by hot soup girl at 5:42 PM on May 30, 2007

This question is probably too broad to really answer, but that's not going to stop me from typing a lot.

Now, let's suppose you got legally married in Xanderland, and subsequently moved to New York. New York, in the vast majority of cases, will recognize your marriage, since it was recognized where you got married. Next, you move to California and abandon your spouse.

If your spouse tries to divorce you in New York, they will be successful, and New York law will govern, since the marriage is in New York (because your spouse is). The fact that you're in California and refuse to come back to New York is unimportant, since the New York court doesn't need to grab you to dissolve the marriage; it just needs to grab the marriage. New York likewise couldn't care less if abandonment isn't a valid reason for divorce in Xanderland.

All of this said, New York may decline to exercise jurisdiction as a prudential matter if it doesn't feel that it has significant connections to your spouse or the marriage (e.g. your spouse wandered into New York for the first time in their life the day before suing you).

Your spouse wants alimony, though, and that's where things get tricky. To get money out of you, the New York courts are going to have to get their hands on you, simply as a threshold manner. There are two ways to do this, basically. First, your spouse could slap process on you as you stop by in JFK airport on your way to Germany for vacation, or your spouse could take advantage of New York's long-arm jurisdiction to reach out and nab you in California, but this latter option requires that New York have some significant connection to the marriage (e.g. the two of you lived, married, in New York for some years).

Should your spouse live in New York, sue for alimony in New York, somehow get jurisdiction over you, and satisfy New York that it is sufficiently interested in this marriage to adjudicate alimony in its courts, New York law would almost certainly apply. The fact that the marriage took place in Xanderland would be unimportant.

One way to get around this result, if you don't like it, would be a prenuptial agreement with a choice of law clause. You could agree with your spouse ahead of time where and under what law alimony and what not would be litigated.
posted by Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America at 5:43 PM on May 30, 2007

IANAL but i studied Aussie Family Law some time ago & the OP is apparently in NZ.

making a wild guess that NZ Family Law might be similar to Aussie FL, the general gist is that if you get married elsewhere, NZ will recognise the marriage as valid in most cases, and if you divorce in NZ, then NZ FL will apply to that divorce. FWIW, last i read, prenups are irrelevant-to-influential in Australia, but not binding.

MPDSEA makes some valid points about conflict of laws & jurisdiction, but I would suggest you look to Kiwi statutes & precedent, instead of asking a bunch of septic tanks.
posted by UbuRoivas at 6:52 PM on May 30, 2007

wow, considering where to get married based on settlement laws is acceptable but a prenup is not???? How does that work? At least with a prenup, everything is up front and out in the open.
posted by Raichle at 7:37 PM on May 30, 2007

Tanzanian village girl earning $1 per day. Wealthy Western guy donates a large sum to her community, meets her, falls in love with her, they get married and shows her a healthy, enjoyable life without poverty and disease and uncertainty.

Western city girl earns $70K per year working full-time and happens to be married to a wealthy guy. Western girl wants a divorce because she is "bored" and demands half because that's what her law says she is entitled to.

If we are getting down to ethics here, let's see the yardstick first please. Now about this question.... ?
posted by zaebiz at 7:47 PM on May 30, 2007

If "one person" in a marriage is earning money through investments, then they both are.

If you live in a community-property state, yes.
posted by oaf at 8:09 PM on May 30, 2007

If you live in a community-property state, yes.

Well, who exactly is helping create a situation in which you have free time, and extra money, in which to invest?

If you devalue your partner's time, enthusiasm, and support to this extent, then I hope to god you don't expect an equal partnership with her -- in which case she'd be totally justified in suing for the highest alimony she could get. Treat her like a grasping harpy; expect her to act like a grasping harpy.
posted by occhiblu at 11:50 PM on May 30, 2007

You seem to be making a lot of very big and very wrong assumptions, occhiblu.
posted by oaf at 11:59 PM on May 30, 2007

The question seems to be, "Which countries or states are the least progressive in terms of divorce settlements?" I can't imagine anyone asking such a thing out of good intentions, and those who partner up without good intentions tend to find the partnership filled with pitfalls.
posted by occhiblu at 12:05 AM on May 31, 2007

Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America: "Now, let's suppose you got legally married in Xanderland, and subsequently moved to New York. "

Your answer has a lot of useful information in it. Thanks. The one variable I would like to throw into the mix, is what if I was happy living in Xanderland? Where would Xanderland be? Is there a Xanderland amongst first world countries?
posted by zaebiz at 1:08 AM on May 31, 2007

Anywhere but London.
posted by chuckdarwin at 4:17 AM on May 31, 2007

I have a better idea.

Why don't you just marry "up"?

Earlier in my marriage, I did work. My husband made much more than me. Guess who did the lion's share of the housework and cooking and shopping? Guess who was pregnant with the children? And took care of them? and got up with them? Guess who had to fit in with her husband's schedule? Etc. Etc.

I repeat my answer.
posted by konolia at 8:12 AM on May 31, 2007

A friends father told him that unless he got a pre-nup before he got married, then he would write him out of his will. His father has a decent amount of money accrued through investments. I think the thought process is that if his son marries a golddigger (or worse) that she shouldn't be rewarded with access to his finances.

Although it seems a little pessimistic to me, it takes the load off his son's shoulders to have to ask for one. Which may also be the idea in the father's mind.
posted by kookywon at 3:04 PM on May 31, 2007

IAAL in England.

In very general terms the English/Welsh courts have jurisdiction to grant a divorce if either spouse
(a) is domiciled in England or Wales when the proceedings are begun, or (b) is habitually resident in England or Wales throughout the period of one year ending with the date on which proceedings are begun.

Also, pre-nups are not (yet) binding on the courts in England. English courts are notoriously generous in dividing assets in big money cases, so a wife planning a divorce from her rich husband would be well-advised to live in England for a year before starting proceedings in England.
posted by essexjan at 3:50 PM on May 31, 2007

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