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Divorce and Immigration: the issues

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When making the decision to file for a Divorce, everyone involved will have concerns and there will be many issues to consider.  For many people the difficulties of managing and mitigating any impact this will have on the children will be key, along with the problem of how to deal with the finances and assets.

Of vital importance to some is the issue of immigration status. Take these examples:

Example 1:

Mr Smith is British and Mrs Smith is South African. Before they married, the couple had a child in South Africa and then decided to move to the UK where they married and have been living since 2013. Mrs Smith has a visa as a spouse, and their child also obtained a visa as a dependant. The couple file for a divorce in 2016, which is finalised in 2017.

When the divorce is finalised, the following questions then become very important

  • What happens to Mrs Smith’s immigration status?
  • What happens to their child’s immigration status?
  • Does the child have any claim to British Citizenship from their father?

Example 2:

Mrs Jones is Italian and Mr Jones is American. Mr Jones has one child from a previous relationship with an American citizen and the couple have one natural child together. Mrs Jones received a job offer in the UK and the family moves together in 2014. The family enter the UK as family members of an EEA Citizen (Mrs Jones). The couple file for divorce in 2016 and is finalised in 2017, and at this point Mr Jones’s child is now 19.

When the divorce is finalised, the following questions then become important.

  • What happens to Mr Jones’s immigration status?
  • Is Mr Jones’s son still a dependant?
  • Has the biological child registered their Italian nationality?

It is essential that all of these questions are dealt with before divorce proceedings are commenced as quite often there will be limited time to regularise someone’s immigration status where the Decree Absolute has already been obtained. Matters of nationality should also be considered well in advance also to ensure that all passports and travel documents have been issued and are valid.

If you are considering divorce or simply need to discuss the implications that this may have on you or your family members, please contact a member of our Immigration or Family team to arrange a joint consultation.  We can help to formulate an effective strategy to achieve what is best for you and your family.