By Tanya Dorman, Esq.
It is always necessary to seek professional advice and service to handle matters that are important and life altering. Maria (not her real name) and her ex-husband both remarried and now have children and property with their respective new spouses. Maria was in the middle of an immigration interview for her alien card when she discovered that her current marriage was not valid. Because the marriage was not valid, she could not adjust her status to a legal permanent resident of the United States. She was now vulnerable to deportation proceedings! At the time of the divorce, both Maria and her husband were living in the United States. Their divorce was obtained in the Dominican Republic.
Documents representing marriages and divorces must be legal. Documents that are non-conforming will create additional legal problems. It is illegal for a person to have two spouses at the same time. In Connecticut, it is a crime. There is nothing more devastating than after years or remarriage, it is determined that a person’s current marriage is not legal. The cost of repairing the damage caused by an illegally obtained divorce is too great for the risks! An invalid divorce disrupts the sanity of current spouses, family and children. The pain of having to tell a former spouse that the divorce was not valid, is not worth obtaining a divorce by fraud or non-compliant documents. The cost of having to divorce and then annul a current marriages is another detriment; not to mention the possibility of deportation if a current marriage is not valid and immigration proceedings are pending.
To get a “legal divorce,” one party must reside in the United States of America. They must live in the state where they are seeking the divorce for at least twelve months prior to the date the divorce is filed or the date of the divorce judgment. I say “legal” divorce because, like Maria, many people are able to get a document that says “Divorce” that is not acceptable by the United States Government as a “legal divorce.” I have seen divorces from Mexico by people who are from Ghana and never ever visited or lived in Mexico! This type of divorce is not only illegal, it is fraudulent!
For a divorce to be valid, notice of the divorce must be delivered to the spouse to be divorced. Notice requires what is called “Service of Process.” In the State of Connecticut, State Marshals and in some towns Constables must be hired to make the Service of Process. In cases where the spouse lives in another state, outside of the country, or the location of a spouse is unknown, the Service of Process can be done by certified mail or by newspaper publication. Notice by certified mail or by publication require additional court orders. It is not legal or anyone who is seeking a divorce to mail divorce documents to a spouse on your own. Documents must be delivered to the person to be divorced from, by an authorized third party.
Legal documents become public record when they are filed with the Court. Documents must comply with the Court and State rules. Sometimes, issues such as child support, child custody and property may not be addressed in the American Court. If children and assets are not in the United States, the Court may not have authority to make decisions regarding them. Divorcing spouses may have to go to wherever their children live or wherever assets are located to get a court order to resolve those issues.
The Bottom Line is never try to cut corners on documents of importance such as a divorce Judgment. You will always need this document. If your documents are not legitimate, you will always have legal problems.
Disclaimer: The contents on this website are provided for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice.
Contribution by Attorney Tanya T. Dorman, Esq., Dorman Law Firm, LLC. http://www.tdormanlaw.com/.
Writer: Tanya T. Dorman, Esq., Dorman Law Firm, LLC. Attorney Dorman is private practice litigators in the areas of Immigration and Naturalization law, Deportation and Removal Litigation, State and Federal Litigation, Criminal Defense, Divorce, Child Custody, Child Support Litigation, Adoption, and Residential Real Estate Transactions.