U.S. immigration law is needlessly complex, and many people worry that getting divorced will affect their current naturalization or citizenship status. Divorce will affect people in different ways depending on where they are in the process of obtaining citizenship. We will break down what you should know about divorce and how it affects citizenship status.
Getting a Divorce as a Naturalized Citizen
If you have gone through the naturalization process and received your certificate, then it doesn’t matter if you get divorced. You are a citizen. Citizenship is revoked only in very rare circumstances, such as committing fraud to obtain citizenship.
Divorce During Two-Year Conditional Residency
United States Customs and Immigration Services (USCIS) doesn’t immediately give people a green card if they have recently been married. Instead, you will be given conditional residency, which is like probation. If you divorce during this two-year period, then you will need to carefully analyze the situation.
Can Divorce Affect Your Ability to Renew Your Green Card?
Divorce rarely affects lawful permanent residents who have obtained a ten-year green card; they can renew it without a hassle. You only have to file Form I-90 (Application to Replace Permanent Resident Card) to replace a lost or renewed green card.
Should You Consider Legal Separation Before Divorce?
Legal separation is an alternative to divorce which allows a couple to separate while still remaining legally married. This is a preferable option for couples who do not see divorce as an option for moral, religious, or financial reasons, or couples that believe they can still reconcile. Legal separation is easily reversible, so it is not as permanent as a divorce, but it still gives the couple a chance to decide on major issues such as division of assets and child custody while deciding if divorce is right for them. Couples seeking a legal separation in New Jersey can participate in separation mediation to agree to the terms of separation just as they would for a divorce.
Legal separation can allow individuals to avoid the pitfalls of getting divorced before their citizenship status is confirmed. If both parties are on the same page, a mediator can be a quick and easy way to separate without all the hassle that can come with a traditional divorce.
Why Would You Get a Legal Separation Instead of a Divorce?
The key difference between divorce and legal separation is that in a divorce the marriage has ended, while in a separation you are still legally considered married. This has several benefits that divorce cannot offer such as:
- Avoiding the Stress of Divorce – Divorce can be a very taxing process that can drag out for a long time. Legal separation can be a much more moderate affair with less stress and time commitment.
- Religious Reasons – One or both of the parties involved may object to divorce on religious or moral grounds.
- Tax Benefits – Both you and your spouse can still take advantage of marital tax benefits.
- Healthcare and Insurance Benefits – One spouse can remain eligible for the healthcare and insurance benefits of the other. However, sometimes there are clauses that disallow legally separated couples from gaining these benefits, so make sure to check your policy.
- Government Benefits – If one spouse will soon become eligible for their spouse’s government benefits or Social Security, it can be wise to pursue legal separation rather than divorce.
- Leaving the Door Open to Reconciliation – If you feel your situation may improve with some time apart and that future reconciliation is an option you want to keep on the table, legal separation allows that.
- Less Costly – Divorce can get expensive. A legal separation is generally a much cheaper option.
Contact Steven B. Menack Today
Separation mediation helps couples move on with their lives in a collaborative and positive manner without total dissolution of a marriage. When it comes to mediation, Mr. Menack has helped many couples reach a fair agreement together over the course of 25 years. If legal separation and separation mediation seem like the right call for you and your spouse, do not hesitate to contact us in order to find out more about the mediation process.
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