“Adieu”: The Divorce Procedure between U.S. Citizens and non-U.S. Citizens

“Adieu”: The Divorce Procedure between U.S. Citizens and non-U.S. Citizens

With the increasing nature of globalization, relationships between U.S. citizens and non-U.S. citizens are becoming more and more popular. The romance of ending up with someone from a different culture sweeps many off their feet, but at times, the marriage is never fully considered. There are also times when young couples from different nations marry before they are ready to keep their partners in the United States so that they can get the time to get to know each other. Finally, there are many who marry after fully considering the marriage, but certain realities become more and more difficult to overcome, such as the cultural disparities or the distance from friends and family.

The Divorce Procedure and Other Considerations

Marrying a foreigner can be extremely difficult, especially if you reside in the United States. There are applications to fill out, interviews with government officials, and official documents to complete. Divorcing a foreigner, however, is a less difficult procedure, but there are still certain factors that one must be aware of before divorcing his/her foreign spouse.

Marriage Must be Legally Valid in the First Place

Before a divorce may be acquired, the couple needs to have been officially and validly married in the first place. Most marriages, whether conducted in the United States or abroad, are considered valid once the applicant has proven that the couple was validly married. Generally, a marriage certificate can establish this provision. Also, the marriage must not violate United States public policy, like polygamous marriages, marriages to minors or non-humans, proxy weddings, or in an attempt to evade immigration laws.

The Couple Must File in the Jurisdiction Where They Reside

If the couple can prove that they were validly married (regardless of abroad or in the United States), the applicants must prove that they reside in the jurisdiction where they will be filing for divorce. Most states require that the couple lives in the jurisdiction for a specific time period.

In the county and jurisdiction where the couple resides, they may fill out and file the divorce petition form which will require the information of where the spouses were married. The United States generally apply reciprocity for marriages or divorces that occur abroad (unless there are public policy concerns that would question the validity of the marriage or the divorce).

The Divorce’s Effect on the Foreign Spouse’s Immigration Status

Depending on the foreign spouse’s status, a divorce will dissolve the foreigner’s ability to be eligible for naturalization as a spouse of a U.S. citizen. If the foreign spouse has already become a citizen, the divorce will not affect this status. However, if the divorce occurs before citizenship, the foreign spouse’s status will be changed and he or she will no longer be eligible for naturalization.

The Ten Year Post-Divorce Liability Sponsorship

If the foreign spouse has already become a citizen after the divorce, the U.S. Government still holds the U.S. citizen who married the foreign spouse responsible as a sponsor for the foreign spouse’s debts for at least 10 years. This means that even if the foreign spouse has divorced the U.S. citizen, the U.S. citizen may still be financially liable for the foreigner, if he or she, for example, go on welfare as a result of the divorce.

Experienced Family Law Practice in Charleston

There are many considerations when entering into a marriage with a non-U.S. citizen. There are just as many concerns that must be considered when deciding to divorce a non-U.S. citizen. Both situations should not be entered into lightly and it is important to speak with an experienced family law attorney at the Klok Law Firm LLC as the immigration laws are constantly in flux. Contact us today for an initial and confidential consultation.