How Family Law and Immigration Matters Are Often Connected

How Family Law and Immigration Matters Are Often Connected

Date: Jun 24, 2023
In: Divorce

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How Family Law and Immigration Matters Are Often Connected

Divorce is a complicated legal matter, and when it intersects with immigration – another complex legal concern – things can become much more challenging. Family law and immigration issues often intertwine, which makes it essential to have a dedicated California family law attorney on your side who has extensive experience, or access to an immigration attorney with extensive immigration law experience, handling difficult cases that also involve immigration.

Family-Based Immigration

Immigration based on family relationships is one of the primary mechanisms for obtaining immigrant visas in the United States, as well as a critical way for immigrants and their families to reunite. When a family member is a U.S. citizen or has lawful permanent residence status, which is often referred to as having a green card, they may be eligible to sponsor lawful permanent resident status for certain family members, which can then develop into naturalization and citizenship. 

Family members who can benefit include the following:

  • The spouse of a U.S. citizen or permanent resident
  • The children of a U.S. citizen or permanent resident
  • The parents of a U.S. citizen
  • The siblings of a U.S. citizen

When a Divorce Is a Complicating Factor

When an immigrant whose immigration status is based on their spouse’s status as a U.S. citizen or as a green card holder faces a divorce, there are two divergent paths forward, including:

  • If the spouse whose status is dependent on the other’s has already obtained an unconditional green card, they will not lose their permanent resident status if proper steps were taken to secure the green card.
  • If the spouse whose status is predicated on the others has not obtained an unconditional green card, which means the marriage was less than two years at the time the green card was awarded, divorce will not automatically divest them of their immigration status, but it can lead to increased scrutiny regarding the authenticity of the marriage and proper steps need to be taken to remove conditions on their residency (green card status).

If the spouse facing immigration concerns related to divorce is able to prove that the couple entered the marriage in good faith – and not as a means of thwarting immigration procedures – the goal of obtaining a green card and citizenship will probably take longer, but it is still possible to achieve.  

Addressing Child Custody

When one parent has legal status in the United States, and the other does not, divorce can lead to grave concerns regarding child custody for the parent whose legal status is based on the other. California courts base child custody determinations on the best interests of the involved children, which includes factors like the following:

  • The children’s needs and each parent’s ability to adequately address these needs
  • Each parent’s overall mental and physical health
  • The wishes of those children who are mature enough to weigh in on the topic

Immigration status alone does not affect the court’s decision-making process, but the matter of deportation would need to be carefully assessed in relation to the children’s lives and best interests. 

Speak with an Experienced California Divorce Attorney Today

The savvy divorce attorneys at Miranda, Magden & Miranda, LLP – proudly serving both Monterey and Salinas counties – have ample experience in both immigration and family law matters. We understand what it takes to successfully protect the immigration status and parental rights of clients facing complex divorce concerns. To learn more or discuss your legal concerns, contact us today.

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