Mr. Perrin and Mrs. Perrin
were Swiss citizens that were married and domiciled in New York.
13 years later Mrs. Perrin
went down to Mexico and got a divorce. Mr. Perrin sent a lawyer to the
Mexican Court and consented to the divorce.
The Mexican Court awarded
custody of their child to Mr. Perrin.
A year later, Mrs. Perrin
showed up in the Virgin Islands. She requested a divorce and custody of
Mrs. Perrin was hoping for a
better deal from the Virgin Islands Court than she had received in the
The Virgin Islands Court
granted the divorce. Mr. Perrin appealed.
Mr. Perrin contested the
divorce in the Virgin Islands, maintaining that they couldn't get a
divorce because they had already been legally divorced in Mexico.
Mrs. Perrin argued that the
Mexican divorce did not count because neither of them were domiciled in Mexico at the time of the divorce.
The Appellate Court reversed.
The Appellate Court noted
that in the US, you must be domiciled
in a State to receive a divorce there.
However, the Appellate Court
found that the Mexican divorce should be granted legal standing (aka comity) unless it offends public policy.
If there was something
shady about the Mexican system, such as Mrs. Perrin was able to get a
divorce without notifying Mr. Perrin, then the US Court would not
recognize the divorce. But in this case the Court found that the
Mexican divorce procedures, while not the same as US standards, were
perfectly reasonable and didn't offend public policy. Therefore they are
The Court noted that there
isn't much difference between the Mexican standard and the Nevada
standard of only requiring 6 weeks.
The Court found that since
both Perrins appeared in the Mexican Court, that was enough to establish
that the Mexicans had jurisdiction.
The Court also found an
estoppel issue. Since Mrs. Perrin was the one who filed for the Mexican
divorce, it wasn't fair for her to later attack that validity of that
The basic rule for foreign
divorces is that US courts are not required to accept them, but they
usually will unless they "offend public policy" in some way, or
the standards are grossly unfair compared to US standards.