Tue | Aug 11, 2020

Immigration Corner | Abandoned by my childhood sweetheart

Published:Tuesday | July 7, 2020 | 12:07 AM
Dahlia Walker-Huntington
Dahlia Walker-Huntington

Dear Mrs Walker-Huntington,

Last year, I got married to my childhood sweetheart in Jamaica. He lives in America and was previously married and divorced.

I went to America for the honeymoon a week after we got married. My husband picked me up at the airport and dropped me off at a house. Since then I have not seen or heard from him. I called his phone, and he has changed the number. I came back to Jamaica two weeks later.

What do you suggest I do now? Is it too early for a divorce? Please let me know how to move forward. I’m stressed out over the whole situation.

– Name Withheld

Dear Writer,

I am so sorry that you were the victim of such a cruel act. Luckily for you that you had the resources to return to Jamaica and that the abandonment took place early in the marriage. Unfortunately, there are countless similar stories of a beautiful wedding, and as soon as the immigrant spouse arrives in America, or soon thereafter, there is abandonment. Often, the immigrant spouse gives up everything he or she owns in his or her home country – house, job, car, etc – and moves to America, only to be abused, neglected, or abandoned.

The reverse also happens where a spouse is sponsored and once they arrive in America, they take off, leaving the American spouse bewildered. Take comfort because the abandonment could have happened and left you stranded in America without many options.

There is a provision for an immigrant spouse who, after living with an American spouse and who was subject to abuse, can self-petition under the Violence Against Women’s Act. It applies to men also. However, you never lived with your husband in America and are not currently in the United States, therefore, you would not be able to apply for this relief.

Have you tried to reach your husband through friends or family just to see what happened? There is the possibility that something could have happened to him that would explain his bizarre behaviour.

You should contact an attorney in Jamaica to see what the laws are for divorce, and they will advise regarding the timing for your divorce. Under the circumstances and your long history with this person, I also suggest that you contact a psychologist or therapist to cope with the situation and the stress it has caused.

Dahlia A. Walker-Huntington, Esq, is a Jamaican-American attorney who practises immigration law in the United States and family, criminal, and international law in Florida. She is a mediator and former special magistrate and hearing officer in Broward County, Florida. info@walkerhuntington.com