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  • John C. Whitbeck, Jr.


    John C. Whitbeck, Jr. practices in the following areas of law: Family Law, Divorce, Child Custody, Child Support, Visitation Rights, Adoptions, Spousal Support, Mediation, Arbitration, Relocation Cases, Domestic Violence, Criminal Law, DUI/DWI, Reckless Driving, All Felonies, All Misdemeanors, Juvenile Crimes, Mental Health Law, Civil and Business Litigation, Construction Litigation, Education Law, Election Law, Debt Collection, Consumer and Lemon Law.

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  • Ruth M. McElroy


    Ruth M. McElroy practices in the following areas of law: Family law, Divorce, Child Custody, Child Support, Visitation Rights, Adoptions, Spousal Support, Relocation Cases, Pre and Post Marital Agreements, Domestic Violence, Reckless Driving, DUI/DWI, Juvenile Crimes, Felony and Misdemeanor Crimes, Traffic Offenses, Debt Collection, Civil and Business Litigation. She serves the Virginia Court system as a Guardian ad litem.

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  • Jennifer D. Cisneros


    Jennifer D. Cisneros practices in the following areas of law: Family law, Divorce, Child Custody, Child Support, Visitation Rights, Adoptions, Spousal Support, Relocation Cases, Domestic Violence, Juvenile Crimes, Reckless Driving, DUI/DWI, Estate Planning, Wills and Probate, Trusts, Civil and Business Litigation and Debt Collection.

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Virginia Divorce: How to Serve Your Spouse Overseas?


There are a number of similarities between filing a divorce petition and a standard civil lawsuit for financial damages. One of these is that you need to serve the other party and allow them the chance to respond before moving forward. However, what happens if the person you are divorcing is located overseas somewhere? In these situations, you definitely need the assistance of a skilled Leesburg divorce attorney who is familiar with the nuances of dealing with a spouse who doesn’t live in Virginia, let alone in the country.

First Step: File the Divorce Petition and Summons

The initial step is to file your divorce petition and summons with the applicable court. The jurisdiction will vary based on a number of factors, like where you call your primary residence or where you own the majority of property. Determining the correct jurisdiction is imperative or the court could dismiss your case if you filed in the wrong venue. Your Virginia divorce attorney will know what venue has jurisdiction.

Second Step: Find Out Where Your Spouse Is

You will need to follow the laws in the overseas jurisdiction where your spouse is located. Finding the exact address is key here. Otherwise, you could go through the expensive process of trying to have him or her served only to realize you had the wrong address and have to start over.

Third Step: Learn the Long Arm Statute

Your Leesburg divorce attorney needs to be familiar with the Virginia long arm statute. This will determine whether or not the local court will have the necessary jurisdiction over your soon-to-be ex. Each case will be different, and the determination will be made based on different factors, like how much contact the person has with Virginia state.

Fourth Step: Determining Service Method

Before rushing out and attempting service, you need to determine what method is best. This requires knowing whether you think your spouse will accept service and follow the required protocols, or are they the type to evade the process servers and avoid being served? It’s important to understand the rules under the Hague Service Convention if your spouse is living in a member country. If so, you will have to match the international service of process laws. In addition, you will also need to find out whether you need the divorce papers to be translated into that country’s native language.

This is another reason why you need an experienced Leesburg divorce attorney on your side. Your attorney will also determine whether the documents should be served in person, service by certified mail, service by publication, service through a central authority, or service by letters rogatory. 

Fifth Step: Following Up

Don’t assume that just because you sent someone out or sent a letter that service is completed. It’s important that you also follow up and find out the current status. You should make sure you followed the right protocols and the documents are properly executed, otherwise they will not move forward with serving your spouse.

Contact a Leesburg Divorce Attorney

If you are preparing to file for divorce and your spouse is living outside of the United States, contact Whitbeck Cisneros McElroy PC at 703-997-4982 to schedule an initial consultation.




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Governor Northam’s Executive Order 53 provides that businesses that offer professional rather than retail services may remain open. Our firm is continuing to operate to ensure you and your family have advocates available for whatever legal issue you face. For clients who prefer, we can arrange meeting by Zoom or other video-conferencing. We are also implementing internal procedures to provide a safe environment in the office. Please contact us at 703-777-1795 or schedule an appointment today!