Divorce and Immigrant Status in Florida
Making the decision to file for divorce in Tampa can be difficult and complicated regardless of your situation. However, divorce can become even more complex when there are issues of immigration in the case. In other words, if one of the parties involved in the divorce proceedings is not a U.S. citizen, the divorce can involve many complexities that are not associated with other divorces in Florida. We want to say more about divorce for non-U.S. citizens in Florida and to provide more information about the complications that may arise when a U.S. citizen and a non-U.S. citizen get divorced.
Can I Get Divorced in Tampa if I am Not Currently a U.S. Citizen?
One of the first questions that people have concerning divorce and immigration is whether a non-U.S. citizen can get divorced in Florida. The short answer to this question is yes, assuming that the other spouse is a U.S. citizen and meets the residency requirements for a Florida divorce.
Now, you might be wondering: if a non-U.S. citizen can get divorced in Florida if his or her spouse is a U.S. citizen and a resident of Florida, can the non-U.S. citizen spouse be the party to file for divorce in Florida? Generally speaking, the residency requirements for divorce in Florida say that at least one of the parties to the marriage must have resided in Florida for at least 6 months prior to the date of filing the petition for the dissolution of marriage.
Citizenship and residency are not the same thing. To be clear, residency requirements for divorce (or for the ability to file a lawsuit in a specific place) simply require the party to show that she or he has resided in that place for the appropriate amount of time. Typically, it does not matter whether the party was a citizen of the country during the period of residency. Accordingly, if one of the spouses is a non-U.S. citizen but has been a resident of Florida for at least 6 months, in most cases that person can file a petition for the dissolution of marriage. It is important to remember that the party may need to be in the U.S. with a valid visa, but there are cases in which the party may be eligible to file even if his or her visa has expired.
Does a Florida Divorce Have a Different Process for a Non-U.S. Citizen?
The divorce process in Florida will look largely the same regardless of whether one of the spouses is a non-U.S. citizen. However, it is important to remember that some aspects of the divorce process may be more complicated if the non-U.S. citizen plans to leave the U.S. after the divorce, or if the non-U.S. citizen has property outside the U.S.
For example, depending upon the specific facts of the case, certain marital property that is subject to distribution may be outside the U.S., complicating the process of property division. More significantly, if the couple has minor children from the marriage, questions about child custody can become very contentious. In particular, when it comes to time-sharing, the non-U.S. citizen spouse may want to move outside the country with the children. Like in any other divorce, the court will determine what is in the best interests of the child.
It is important to note that, when a non-U.S. citizen gets divorced in Florida, there may be additional legal complications beyond those in the family law setting. For instance, that party’s residency in the U.S. may be depending upon the marriage to a U.S. citizen.
Learn More from a Tampa Divorce Lawyer
If you have questions or concerns about divorce in Tampa, you should get in touch with a Tampa divorce attorney to get answers. Contact Bubley & Bubley, P.A. for more information about the services we provide to families in Florida.