Both marrying and divorcing a foreign national spouse can lead to dizzying legal complications. Depending on the nature of the separation, the length of the relationship, your spouse’s immigration status, and where you both live now, here are some challenges you might encounter:
Marriage to a non-resident spouse typically grants conditional residency status to the spouse. This conditional residency is put into effect for two years, after which the couple can petition Immigration and Naturalization Services to obtain full U.S. citizenship. However, if the non-resident spouse cannot obtain citizenship before the divorce (for whatever reason), he or she can take steps to continue this process while undergoing the divorce.
Affidavit of Support (if applicable)
When a U.S. citizen marries a non-resident spouse, the citizen may elect to sponsor the spouse’s immigration application, which requires signing an Affidavit of Support. This affidavit imposes a 10-year liability on the sponsor, and it does not automatically terminate upon divorce. This means it could affect the outcome of spousal support orders moreso than state laws on the matter. In fact, one man was actually sued by the government for $90,000 in social services benefits incurred by the sponsored party several years earlier. The bottom line: don’t forget to dissolve the Affidavit of Support along with the marriage.
Spouse’s current location
What if your non-resident spouse has already left the country? Although the remaining American spouse can still undergo the divorce process independently, the guidelines for serving his or her spouse with notice of the divorce will be different. The U.S. Department of State features a helpful guide for undergoing this process through the appropriate agencies.
If you have additional questions about the process of divorcing a non-resident spouse, talk to an experienced attorney at the Law Offices of Silky Sahnan today. Call us now at 888-228-1098 for a confidential consultation.