Understanding Non-Citizen's Rights In Family Court

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Understanding Non-Citizen's Rights In Family Court

14 March 2018
 Categories: , Blog


The United States is a melting pot, and there are some marriages between one U.S. citizen and a citizen of another country. If these marriages end in divorce, some things can be complicated, especially if the couple share children who have dual citizenship. If you are a non-citizen of the United States, you may be worried about a number of issues that may arise after a divorce, especially child custody. Continue reading to learn more about non-citizen's rights in family court:

Immigration Status Does Not Matter in Family Court

Whether you have a visa, are a permanent resident, or an undocumented resident, it is important to note that you have the same rights in family court as your spouse who is a U.S. citizen. If your marriage is ending in divorce, you can file a petition in family court to seek full or partial custody of your children. It is in your best interest to hire an attorney who is experienced in family law and immigration issues.

There are Resources for Non-Citizens who are Victims of Domestic Violence

If you are married to a U.S. citizen but are an undocumented immigrant or non-permanent resident who is living with domestic violence, you may fear taking action because you are afraid that the court system may get involved and force you to move out of the country. Luckily, this is not the case, and there are resources for non-citizens who are being battered by a U.S. citizen spouse. An attorney can assist you in filling out the necessary paperwork to become a permanent resident under programs that are designed to assist battered non-citizen spouses.

The Best Interest of the Children is the Main Goal

When it comes to matters of deciding whether one parent receives full legal and physical custody or if parents will have joint custody, immigration status is not taken into account. The parent who is a U.S. citizen will not automatically be awarded full custody; like any other case in family court involving custody, the judge will consider what is in the children's best interest. 

Thus, if the time has come to end a marriage due to an irreconcilable difference or because your spouse is abusive, do not worry about how your non-citizen status may affect your ability to be granted joint custody or possibly full custody, depending on the situation. You can count on the court to make the best decision based on what is best for the kids.