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Foreign courts and Texas family law

In some cases, foreign courts could impact families in family law matters such as divorce, child support or custody. Earlier this summer, the Texas Attorney General responded to a legislative inquiry concerning the enforcement of foreign law in family law disputes.

In summary, the Attorney General said that a Texas court could not enforce an order from a court from another country of that court violated a party's rights to due process or enforce a contract term requiring the use of foreign law or procedures that violate public policy.

Texas public policy promotes children having continuous contact with parents who act in their best interest and provide a safe environment. Parents are encouraged to share in the raising of their parents after their separation or divorce.

For example, state judges do not have to enforce a spousal contract for arranged marriages. Contracts may be unenforceable for granting child custody to an adult who would take the child to a foreign country that allows dangerous child labor or which does not prohibit child abuse, child slavery or physical mutilation.

Texas may enforce adoption orders issued by a foreign country as if it were issued by a court of this state. However, a Texas court will not enforce a foreign adoption order that violates state law, public policy or human rights principles.

Texas courts may also refuse enforcement of a premarital agreement that violates state criminal laws or public policy. Foreign monetary judgments for spousal or child support will not be recognized if the overseas court did not have timely notice of those judicial proceedings or if it violates public policy.

Texas courts have the final say in determining family legal issues. Legal representation should be sought to help spouses determine their legal rights and options and have their day in court.

Source: Attorney General of Texas, "Opinion No KP-0094: The extent to which a judge may refuse to apply the law of a jurisdiction outside of the United States in certain family law disputes," Accessed July 31, 2016

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