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Applying Foreign Law to a Florida Divorce Proceeding

How does a Florida Family Court judge deal with the issue of foreign law?

There is no doubt that Florida is a multi-cultural state, drawing residents from around the world.  Oftentimes those residents will come to Florida with prenuptial agreements executed in their home countries.

These agreements usually will contain a choice of law provision which basically spells out that the law of their country will apply to the provisions of the agreement, even though a divorce action is filed in Florida.

When determining whether to apply Florida law or foreign law to a contract, which is what a prenuptial agreement is, a court must first apply Florida’s choice of law or rules.  Generally speaking, Florida courts enforce contractual choice of law provisions unless enforcing the chosen forum’s law would contravene strong Florida public policy.

The party seeking to avoid enforcement of the choice of law provision has the burden of demonstrating that the foreign law contravenes public policy.  McNamara v. McNamara, 40 S03d 78 (Fla. 5th DCA 2010).

The concept of applying foreign law to a Florida divorce proceeding does not mean the issue is restricted solely to international proceedings.  The same rules would apply to any contracts that are executed in any state in the United States.  The use of the term “foreign” applies to any agreement executed outside of the State of Florida, whether it be from another state or another country.

If you are contemplating filing for divorce, and you have a foreign agreement that you either wish to enforce or vacate, you should confer with an experienced divorce and family law attorney.  Boca Raton divorce attorney Alan R. Burton has the experience you need in situations like this.  Call him for a free consultation at 954-295-9222.

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