Litigation Translation Services, Marital Property Division and International Jurisdiction

Online legal and court translation services play an important role in cross-border divorces. When a married couple has joint property located in various jurisdictions, where does jurisdiction fall if the couple separates? In the Washington Supreme Court case In Re Marriage of Kowalewski, the court said ‘we do’.

In the case, the couple lived in the State of Washington at the time of separation. During the procedure, the court divided all community property, including two residences located in Poland. According to the court’s findings, the two properties were of equal value so one got the apartment while the other took the farm.

Later, when the husband moved to vacate the distribution on grounds of lack of jurisdiction, the court denied him stating that their division of the Polish property did not affect title to that property. The Court of Appeals affirmed, stating that the Polish courts had the right to enforce the decree as to the property, but the Washington Court had the right to make the division.

The key points to take away are:

  • Jurisdiction could be denied if there was proof that the properties were of different value
  • That actual enforcement of the division is with the Polish courts.

In both points, a foreign language translation of either the property valuation report or of the decree will be required.

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