Sun | Oct 2, 2022

Immigration Corner | I want to divorce my son's father

Published:Tuesday | July 30, 2019 | 12:17 AM

Hi Mrs Walker-Huntington,

I need your advice. I married my oldest son’s father in Jamaica in July 2013. After we got married, I found out about two kids of his, one was already born and one was on the way. He did not tell me about either one before we got married. As the years went by, he had two more babies outside the marriage so I stopped visiting him.

How can I go about getting a divorce?

Thanks much

Name withheld

Dear Name withheld,

I am sorry you had this experience. Although you did not state this, I assume from your email that you live in the United States and your husband remains in Jamaica. You also didn’t indicate the age of your son who you share with your husband.

In the United States, family law is governed by state law and every state’s law is different in certain ways. You should consult with a divorce attorney in the state where you reside.

There are a few ways that you could go about your divorce. If your husband is willing to sign the necessary papers, your attorney in the United States could file the divorce and send him a copy by secure mail along with a settlement agreement for his signature. If your son is under 18 years old, there would be the issue of child support that would have to be addressed in your divorce.

If your husband does not want to sign the divorce papers, your attorney would have to hire a process server in Jamaica and have your husband officially served with the divorce papers including a summons. The act of service with a summons requires the recipient to respond within a specified time. If, in this case, your husband does not respond/answer within the specified time, your attorney would proceed with a default judgment against your husband. Ignoring the divorce will not result in denying you your divorce.

Lastly, if you do not know the whereabouts of your husband, your attorney would try to find your husband and then ‘publish’ your divorce in the local newspaper. The attorney would have to apply by your state’s requirements to try and locate your husband and supply proof to the court if you are unable to find him.

It does not appear that you lived with your husband during the marriage and might not have any property to divide. If that is so and your son is under 18, your issues would be limited to child support and visitation.

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 special magistrate in Broward County, Florida.