02 notes on divorce settlement in case a Vietnamese spouse residing abroad without indefinite residence information

Divorce Dispute

Many spouses do not live together for various reasons, in which it could be counted when one spouse has settled or gone to work abroad, while the other remains in Vietnam. Subsequently, the husband and the wife no longer have emotional ties and responsibilities towards each other. Consequently, one spouse in Vietnam proactively filed a unilateral divorce lawsuit against the other when noticing that the purpose of the marriage was unachieved. The raised issue is if a spouse initiating the divorce lawsuit is not well-informed about the residence of the other party abroad (such as due to conflicts leading one party to intentionally conceal their foreign residence address), may the Court proceed with the divorce for them?

In this article, BLawyers Vietnam will present several issues that individuals should note when filing a divorce lawsuit against a Vietnamese spouse who is living abroad but falls into the situation mentioned above.

1. The authority to settle a divorce between a Vietnamese citizen residing in their home country and a Vietnamese citizen living abroad

By Vietnamese laws, divorce means termination of the husband-and-wife relationship under legally effective judgment or decision issued by the Court. At the same time, the husband and the wife have the right to request the Court to settle their divorce if it is deemed that the parties cannot achieve the purposes of marriage, except in some cases prescribed by laws.

The prevailing Law on Marriage and Family has regulations on cases determined as divorce related to foreign elements as follows:

  1. Divorce between a Vietnamese citizen and a foreigner;
  2. Divorce between two foreigners permanently residing in Vietnam; and
  3. A party who is a Vietnamese citizen and does not permanently reside in Vietnam has the request for a divorce without determining the joint permanent residence of spouses.

It could be seen that the Law on Marriage and Family does not mention whether a Vietnamese citizen residing in the home country requesting a divorce against an overseas Vietnamese citizen is considered a divorce related to foreign elements. However, according to Resolution No. 01/2003/NQ-HDTP, this circumstance is deemed to be a divorce related to foreign elements.

Based on the above analysis, individuals proceeding with a divorce request in Vietnam must pay attention to correctly determining the Court’s jurisdiction. According to Vietnamese law, the divorce dispute in which the party is abroad is under the jurisdiction of the provincial-level People’s Court.

2. Solution of divorce dispute in case the defendant intentionally conceals the residence information

Due to various conflicts, most plaintiffs in this situation cannot provide information about the defendant’s residence because these individuals intended to conceal such information. This issue causes many difficulties for the plaintiff in providing evidence about the other party’s identity to prove their divorce request to the Court.

In this situation, according to our experience, the Court will proceed to verify whether the defendant still maintains connections with their relatives within their home country or not. If there are grounds to show that the defendant is still in contact with his or her relatives in Vietnam, but such individuals intentionally conceal and do not cooperate with the Court to provide the defendant’s address and information, and simultaneously, fail to comply with the Court’s request for notification to the plaintiff to submit a declaration to the Court, the Court shall determine that this is a circumstance that the plaintiff intentionally hides their address, refuses to declare and provide necessary documents. Accordingly, there are sufficient grounds for the Court to decide to proceed with the trial in absentia of the defendant under the general procedure.

Therefore, individuals who fall under this circumstance need to proactively prepare all evidence to prove that their spouse residing abroad remains connected with relatives in Vietnam to create the ground for the Court to carry out procedures to verify evidence, and documents under the law of Vietnam.

The above is not official advice from BLawyers Vietnam. If you have any questions or suggestions about the above, please contact us at consult@blawyersvn.com. We would love to hear from you.

Date: 19 December 2023

Writers: Uyen Tran and Nhi Le

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