Just like an American citizen, you are also entitled to many rights and resources in divorce proceedings, including the ability to file for divorce and hire a good lawyer to represent you in court. However, many non-US citizens are still reluctant to divorce their spouses because they fear it may affect their legal residential status.
The only way divorce may have a little effect on your citizenship is when it is proven in court that you were married by fraud or mainly for the purposes of acquiring citizenship in the United States. It is very important to obtain valid divorce papers in order to receive certain judicial or social safety benefits.
You can also choose to file for divorce in your own country despite the distance or other unfavorable conditions. You equally enjoy the same legal rights as American citizens to access the court systems and acquire judicial jurisdiction. However, foreigners that are married overseas come under the marital laws of that country which they were married.
If you are living in the United States and would want to file for divorce, it is advisable to meet with an experienced family law attorney to provide the basic guidelines and necessary steps to follow but below are some useful tips that may help you get through this process.
Useful tips on how to get a divorce in the US
- First and foremost, you will have to file a divorce petition in your local court, so far as you have met the necessary local and state residency requirements. The American law states that either you or your spouse must have resided in the state for at least a period of 12 months prior to filing for divorce. This means that before the court will exercise jurisdiction in your case, either you or your partner must have lived in America for at least 12 months prior to the divorce proceedings. In a situation where you are filing for a divorce without the help of a lawyer, you will have to pay a certain amount of fee, which varies by state. However, if you cannot afford the filing fees, most states will permit you to pay in advance or apply for a fee waiver.
- Serving the divorce papers is the second step to follow. You will have to serve your spouse with the divorce papers and give him or her a period of 30 days to reply back. If your spouse doesn’t respond to the divorce papers then you can ask the court to give him or her a final hearing. After the court must have given your spouse a final hearing and still, he or she hasn’t responded. Then a divorce will be granted based on the facts shown on your divorce papers. However, if your spouse replies back, other processes would be followed to facilitate the divorce proceedings. It is also very necessary to have a copy of the divorce and summons, which was personally delivered to your spouse.
- Lastly, you will have to wait for the court to give a hearing date and once it is given, you can finally attend the hearing. At the court, you will be opportune to show evidence pertaining to your divorce and these pieces of evidence should be convincing enough before the judge. However, if you and your spouse settle everything before the court hearing, then you may not have to continue with the divorce proceedings. Your lawyer can create a document stating the agreement between you and your spouse. Once this settlement is legally binding, the case wouldn’t go any further.
Key points to note:
- The matter of divorcing your spouse is handled by the US state law. However, as a non-citizen, it is possible to file for divorce in the United States if your spouse physically resides in the US at a given address during the time the divorce petition was filed.
- It can also be possible to file for divorce in the United States even if your spouse has moved overseas. However, most American states may not agree with this type of divorces.
- Maybe due to where you are from, your marriage certificate isn’t documented in English which may lead to complications. You may need to have it translated in US English before filing a divorce petition. However, as a UK citizen, yours can be preferable.
- Your home country may need you to register the divorce in their court systems once the divorce petition has been made. Although, it is a matter that is meant for the laws of your country to handle.