Minnesota has not always been a center of diversity. That is not true today. There are many international conglomerates based here and it now hosts the largest population of Somalis and second largest population of Hmong people in the U.S.
The shift in diversity means a lot more businesses are sending employees to overseas offices and often going with them are spouses and children. While this may present itself as an amazing opportunity for travel and adventure, one social scholar suggests it could create dynamics that contribute to couples ending up getting divorced.
The breakup of a marriage when a couple is in Minnesota, or even if one spouse moves to another state, can be difficult. This can mean particular challenges dealing with child custody and child relocation. When the action is taking place in the international arena, the problems can multiply.
Expatriate college professor Yvonne McNulty lives and works in Singapore. For her study, she looked at 38 expat divorces that occurred across 27 countries. What she found from her examination was that expat couples who divorced often had existing problems and that the strains of work and everyday life in a foreign environment could magnify them.
If the situation resulted in a divorce, being expats often made the break up more difficult, especially when children were involved. At times, there might be confusion over which nation had jurisdiction over the process. In cases of custody dispute, international convention might have required that the children remain in the foreign location.
The cost of relocating back to the home front might be problem, too. Companies that helped foot the bill to get the family overseas might not be prepared to carry the tab for its return.
These are only a few of the issues that McNulty says can create problems. If nothing else, it would seem to suggest the value of deep consideration before engaging in an expat adventure.
Source: The Wall Street Journal, “Divorce, Global Style: For Expat Marriages, Breaking Up is Harder to Do,” Debra Bruno, March 18, 2015