NEW YORK: International divorce cases on the rise

Filed in International Divorce and US Divorce Headlines
New York has been seeing an increase in international divorce cases and courts are being called upon to issue rulings in often very convoluted scenarios involving cross border litigants. It makes for very interesting work. One New York attorney, Neil Cahn, writes a very interesting blog (we really need to try to interview this guy!) and he profiled 4 recent international cases of interest to us which we would like to briefly mention on Divorce Saloon. The first is a divorce case involving an American Citizen and a Citizen of Nicaragua which was heard in Westchester County. According to Neil Cahn:

In the fourth “international” decision this month, Westchester County Supreme Court Justice Paul I. Marx dismissed a divorce action over which the Court had jurisdiction, deciding, however, that Nicaragua was the better forum. In L.A.B. v. B.M.decided July 9, 2014, the importance of the majority of witnesses and assets being in Nicaragua overcame the wife’s choice of court.

Apparently the parties met and married in Nicaragua then moved to Manhattan for a short period of time where their first child was born. Then the wife up sticked and moved back to Nicaragua and the husband used to commute back and forth a few times per month. They bought a bunch of properties in Nicaragua and had a second child in Nicaragua. But the husband continued to reside full time in New York till he sold the condo and moved to Westchester County.
Comes time for the divorce. Wife, for perfectly understandable reasons, brought suit in New York. But husband moved to dismiss on the grounds that New York did not have jurisdiction. Make a long story short, the court disagreed with the husband on the jurisdiction question but nevertheless granted his motion to dismiss the case on the basis of forum non conveniens. According to Neil the reasoning involved looking at the locus of their lives and it seems that Nicaragua, due to their ownership of several pieces of property there and the children’s entrenchment in Nicaraguan society, won out over New York.
What is interesting to us is this question of what was to be gained by filing in New York? That is, why did the wife file in New York? New York is certainly not a community property state so it is not like she would have gotten some tactical advantage by filing here. What was she afraid of in the Nicaraguan judicial system that made her try to bring the case over here? Very curious.