Immigration Corner: How do I manage a divorce?
Dear Mrs Walker-Huntington,
I am married to a United States (US) green card holder who had started filing for me. I am now in the US on a visitor's visa. However, I started filing divorce papers back in Jamaica, but it's taking ages. Is it possible to do a different divorce process here? I would like to remarry.
Under regular circumstances, a person who is physically in the US pursuant to lawful entry can adjust their status to a permanent resident after 30 days if an immediate relative files the appropriate documents. Immediate relatives are US citizen spouses, US citizen sons or daughters over 21 years of age, and US parents of minor children.
If you already began divorce proceedings in Jamaica, you should be in touch with your attorney in Jamaica and have them terminate the proceedings in court if you wish to file for divorce in the US. You can file for a divorce in the US even if you are not a permanent resident or citizen of the US, but divorce (family) law varies state by state. For example in the state of Florida to file for divorce, you must have been in the state for at least six months and the two grounds for divorce are irreconcilable differences or that your spouse is mentally incompetent.
Divorces in some states in the US can take a matter of weeks to be final, if the opposing spouse is willing to sign the necessary documents and settle the case. However, if the case is contested, it can take considerably longer as each side goes through the litigation process. You should consult with a divorce lawyer in the state in which you are visiting to see the requirements for a divorce.
- Dahlia A. Walker-Huntington is a Jamaican-American attorney who practises immigration law in the United States, and family, criminal and personal injury law in Florida. She is a mediator, arbitrator and special magistrate in Broward County, Florida; and an adjunct professor at Miami Dade College's School of Justice. firstname.lastname@example.org