How Nevada’s Divorce Process Works When One Partner is Undocumented

Judge with gavelThis is the next post in my series discussing unique populations that have special needs or concerns during a Las Vegas divorce. My last post provided an overview of topics and populations that I will be covering in posts to come. In this post, I will be explaining if and how the divorce process changes when one spouse is not a US citizen and is residing in the country illegally.

Undocumented immigrants and US citizens have equal rights within the Clark County Family Court system

When a person is living in Nevada illegally then they may be accustomed to not having the same rights and privileges as a US citizen. However, when it comes to all areas of divorce– including child custody, property distribution, and child support– undocumented immigrants and US citizens have equal rights under the law. A divorce that involves a spouse living in the country illegally does not proceed any differently than a divorce between two US citizens. Nevada still takes a no fault view of the break-up, will continue to distribute property equally, will order child custody based on the best interest of the child, and will set child custody based on income.

Many undocumented immigrants have concern over engaging in the Court system when they are in the country legally. The Clark County Family Courts will not notify Immigration and Customs Enforcement of your living situation. However, when a person is residing in the state illegally, the possibility of deportation is always present. It is important to know that in the event of a contentious divorce, the Court is not able to prevent an angry ex-spouse from “tipping off” custom officials, nor is the Court able to provide any protection from deportation. It is also important to be aware that if an undocumented worker has applied for a visa that is to be sponsored by his spouse, it is likely that such a visa will be denied or revoked upon the completion of a divorce.

Nevada’s divorce process may take time if spouse has been deported from the country

The divorce process may become time consuming if a spouse has been deported from the country. Prior to obtaining a divorce, the spouse that is being divorced must be properly served the official paperwork. Depending on what country your spouse has been deported to, this may become a timely procedure. Most countries follow service rules according to the Hague Convention on the Service Abroad of Judicial and Extrajudicial Documents in Civil and Commercial Matters. All documents must be served in a way that the country they are served in recognize. It may be necessary to consult with an attorney who is experienced in the customs and policies of the country in question. It may also be possible to serve your spouse through an alternative method known as “publication.”

If you are an undocumented immigrant or are married to a person who is not a US citizen, you likely have questions regarding your divorce. Contact our office today to schedule a consultation with a Las Vegas family attorney.


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