Perrin v. Perrin
408 F.2d 107 (1969)

  • 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 the child.
    • Mrs. Perrin was hoping for a better deal from the Virgin Islands Court than she had received in the Mexican Court.
  • 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 accepted.
        • 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 divorce.
  • 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.