Book an appointment using SetMore

The Effect of Divorcing a United States Citizen While a Non-U.S. Citizen

When considering whether or not a person can file for divorced in Texas, there are two items which are required to do so. They are:

  1. The State of Texas mandates that at least one party to the divorce be a resident of Texas for at least six months or 180 days prior to the filing of a Petition for Divorce
  2. That same party must have been a resident of the County in which they have filed for at least 90 days prior to the filing of the Petition for Divorce

With that said, when it comes to divorces where a party is not a citizen of the United States it bears mentioning that going through a divorce is a separate matter from citizenship proceedings.

There is no law on the books in Texas that a person must be a United States Citizen in order to get a divorce. The law looks upon citizens and non-citizens in the same way.

Non-U.S. Citizen Texas Divorce Considerations

Once a divorce is completed the parties’ lives will be forever changed regardless of citizenship. However, in the event that one party is not a citizen they may have to deal with additional hardships in the form of trying to stay in the United States.

This is due to possible loss of permanent resident status that is bestowed upon a person (for two years) in the United States illegally who marries a citizen of this country. Filing a petition with Immigration and Naturalization on the second anniversary of their marriage is how a person in the U.S. illegally may gain permanent residency.

Texas Divorce Courts do not Contact Immigration

Unfortunately, if the couple divorces before the second anniversary of their wedding date then the illegally residing spouse is subject to deportation. A Texas Divorce Court will not contact the Immigration Authorities about your immigration status but that will not stop a soon to be ex-spouse or another interested person from doing so.

Possible Exceptions to the Rule

There are some exceptions to the above rule which need to be discussed, however. With the assistance of an immigration attorney, a soon to be divorcing spouse needs to prove that:

  1. the marriage was entered into in good faith and
  2. that the couple lived together as husband and wife.

Other considerations to be made involve whether or not:

  1. the couple owned property together or
  2. had children together.

Showing that the immigrant, should he/she be deported, would:

  1. face extreme hardships or
  2. that the immigrant was the victim of abuse or mistreatment by their soon to be ex-spouse are critical components as well.

These exceptions will allow the non-citizen spouse to remain in the country, often times.

Immigration and Longer Marriages

Those immigrants who divorce their spouses after at least two years of marriage face a much lower likelihood of legal consequences including deportation if that person has already gained permanent resident status.

The divorce itself may delay the alien’s citizenship application process due to the fact that there is a five-year residency requirement for immigrants who are not married to United States citizens. The important aspect of this discussion to take note of is that the immigrant will be allowed to remain in the United States.

Divorce Should be Discussed with an Immigration Attorney

In the event that the immigrant spouse was actually sponsoring other family members of theirs to come to the United States as residents the divorce can affect these people’s statuses as well. For more information, as to this subject please contact an attorney with experience in immigration law.

An immigrant spouse has many things to be concerned with while going through a divorce in United States, other than their ability to remain in this country. Both parties to the divorce must understand that the court will not take citizenship status into consideration when deciding child custody or property outcomes.

Best Interest of the Child

Decisions for the children will be made on the tried and true standard of “best interests of the child” and not based on whether or not the non-citizen parent is sure to remain in this country to be deported. The property division laws of Texas, and not the immigration laws of our federal government, will decide who gets awarded what of the marital estate.

As with many areas of law, there are intricacies to a discussion such as this one that demand further examination- beyond what a blog post is able to delve into. However, the contents of this post will hopefully be informative to any reader who finds themselves in a divorce proceeding without documentation to remain here for any extended period of time.

The attorneys with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC have the experience and know how when it comes to assisting persons who are not citizens of the United States and can help ensure their rights are maintained through the Texas divorce process. Please contact our office today with any questions you may have. A licensed attorney is available at your convenience to speak to you about you and your family’s particular legal situation.

Book an appointment with Law Office of Bryan Fagan using SetMore


Adobe Stock 62844981[2]If you want to know more about what you can do, CLICK the button below to get your FREE E-book: 16 Steps to Help You Plan & Prepare for Your Texas Divorce

Other Articles you may be interested in:

  1. I am Not a United States Citizen and Live in Spring, Texas Can I file for Divorce?
  2. The Dirty Trick of Filing for Divorce in Another City
  3. The Dirty Trick of Moving Out of State with the Kids
  4. Should I move out of the marital home during a divorce?
  5. Do I have to move out of the marital home during a divorce in Spring, Texas?
  6. Children's Passports and International Travel after Texas Divorce
  7. Can a Parent remove My Child from the state of Texas or from the County or Country where I am living?
  8. Geographic Restrictions in Child Visitation Orders in Texas
  9. 6 things You Need to Know Before You File for Divorce in Texas

Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC | Spring Divorce Lawyer

The Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC routinely handles matters that affect children and families. If you have questions regarding divorce, it's important to speak with ar Spring, TX Divorce Lawyer right away to protect your rights.

A divorce lawyer in Spring TX is skilled at listening to your goals during this trying process and developing a strategy to meet those goals. Contact Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC by calling (281) 810-9760 or submit your contact information in our online form. The Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC handles Divorce cases in Spring, Texas, Cypress, Spring, Klein, Humble, Kingwood, Tomball, The Woodlands, the FM 1960 area, or surrounding areas, including Harris County, Montgomery County, Liberty County, Chambers County, Galveston County, Brazoria County, Fort Bend County and Waller County.

Sign Up Here to Download Our eBook!

Fill out the form below 
  • Please enter your first name.
  • Please enter your last name.
  • Please enter your phone number.
    This isn't a valid phone number.
  • Please enter your email address.
    This isn't a valid email address.
  • Please make a selection.
  • Please enter a message.