Separation and Divorce Between United States Citizens and Non-Citizens

Separation and divorce between citizens and non-citizens can occur just as separation and divorce occurs between two citizens. Non-citizens who reside in the United States are entitled to the same rights as legal citizens residing in the United States. If both the citizen and non-citizen reside in the United States, both have access to the same court system and procedures.

Non-Citizen Filing Petition for Divorce or Separation

If the non-citizen files a petition for divorce or separation, he may chose to file the petition in his native country. Although he may reside in the United States, the laws of foreign countries differ with respect to jurisdiction over divorce and separation issues. If the non-citizen files his petition in the United States in the appropriate court, the opposing party will be required to answer his petition.

Contested Divorce

If the opposing party in the divorce action opposes the divorce action, the case is referred to as a contested divorce. Depending upon the jurisdiction where the case is brought, the parties may chose to litigate the matter or may choose to mediate the case. Mediation tends to be a less expensive alternative to litigation. In the United States, some states require mandatory mediation in divorce actions. Even though the parties may mediate their divorce case, they still may end up in litigation. Often times matters involving child custody, child support, spousal alimony and maintenance, and property division are issues that require litigation. If the non-citizen files his divorce action in his native country different requirements may apply with respect to the divorce action.

Things to Remember

  • If the non-citizen is filing a petition for divorce or separation in the United States, the laws of the state where the parties reside are applicable.
  • Divorce or separation status may affect the non-citizen's visa or right to return to the United States once he leaves.
  • Foreign divorce and separation laws may be drastically different from the laws in the United States.

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