FAQs: Alabama Divorce Law and Immigrant Spouses

Posted by Steven D. Eversole | Nov 25, 2014 | 0 Comments

Whether you were married in another country and immigrated to the United States, married an immigrant in the U.S. or are an immigrant who married here, your Alabama divorce is likely to be more complicated than most.

What are your rights to divorce in Alabama? Will you be deported if you do not have citizenship? How will divorce affect your children and rights to custody? These are some of the questions you may have.

Remember every divorce case is unique and should be reviewed by an experienced attorney in the U.S. Your rights and options will vary depending on your individual circumstances, including your immigration status and length of time in the country.

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Will I lose status and immigration rights if I am separated or divorced?
While a legal or physical separation will generally not affect your immigration rights, your status will be changed if you decide to terminate the marriage. Immigrants whose immigration standing is based on marriage could lose their immigration status, particularly if the divorce occurs within two years.

Will I lose my H-4 status if it is based on my partner's H-1B status?
Again, a physical or legal separation will not terminate your status. However divorcing your spouse will result in the end of your H-4 status.

How can I protect my legal status?
If your immigration is attached to a marriage, you must explore other immigration options to stay in the U.S. You may be able to seek asylum, a battered spouse exception or apply for an entirely different immigration status. You should also consult with an experienced immigration attorney if brought children to the United States and their immigration status was linked to the marriage.

Will my dependent children lose their status if we decide to divorce?
Dependent children who have H-4 status based on marriage will also result in the termination of H-4 status. Guardians of these children will have to explore other options if the immigration status was based on marriage and not a biological relationship.

How do I protect my legal status if I am a battered spouse and married to a U.S. citizen?
Battered spouses of U.S. citizens have additional protections and can maintain their status even after a divorce is finalized. To qualify, a foreign spouse must be a person of good moral character, have entered the marriage in good faith, have resided in the U.S. with a citizen spouse and been battered or subjected to cruelty by the American spouse. Battered spouses can protect their immigration status if they are divorcing to escape abuse.

How do I protect custody if I lose my immigration status?
U.S. citizens who divorce an immigrant spouse may face additional legal challenges when it comes to custody, especially if another spouse/parent wants to return to their native country. Our Birmingham family law and custody attorneys will help you explore your options and your rights. We are experienced in complex divorce, asset division, and custody cases and can help to secure the best possible outcome in your case.

Every divorce case is unique and immigrants, as well as U.S. citizens should have a clear understanding of their rights and obligations. U.S. sponsors can be held liable for financial costs to the state after divorce. Divorcing couples will also want to protect their rights to assets, income and custody of their children.

If you are seeking a divorce in Birmingham, contact Family Law Attorney Steven Eversole at (866) 831-5292.

About the Author

Steven D. Eversole

J.D., Samford University's Cumberland School of Law, Birmingham, Alabama B.A., University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, Alabama

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