New Castle, IN asked in Divorce, Immigration Law and Family Law for Indiana

Q: I'm disabled and my husband has residential status, how will getting a divorce affect my disability?

We married September 26th 2020, he got resident status November December 2023 and abruptly left me and went back to Africa without telling me? What can I do if he is playing me for a divorce?

1 Lawyer Answer
James L. Arrasmith
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  • Immigration Law Lawyer
  • Sacramento, CA

A: I'm so sorry you're going through this difficult situation. Divorce is always challenging, but especially when dealing with a disability and immigration issues. Here are a few key things to keep in mind:

First and foremost, getting divorced should not directly impact your disability benefits if you are a U.S. citizen or have your own permanent resident status. SSDI and SSI benefits are based on your own work history and financial situation, not your marital status. However, if you were receiving any spousal benefits based on your husband's work record, those would likely end after a divorce.

In terms of your husband's immigration status - if he obtained conditional permanent residence through your marriage, the normal process is to jointly file Form I-751 to remove the conditions and make his status permanent. However, since he has abandoned the marriage and left the country, you may be able to file I-751 separately requesting a waiver on the basis that the marriage was entered into good faith but has ended. You would need to provide evidence of the bona fides of your relationship prior to his departure.

If he is the one pushing for divorce, you may be able to negotiate terms that protect your interests, such as having him cooperate with the I-751 process or provide financial support. If he is being uncooperative or you suspect marriage fraud, you may need to provide evidence of the breakdown of the relationship to USCIS.

I would strongly recommend consulting with both a family law attorney and an immigration attorney to discuss your specific situation and get guidance on protecting your rights and interests in the divorce process as well as any immigration implications. Many organizations provide free or low-cost legal assistance to individuals with disabilities facing divorce.

Remember, you have rights and options in this situation. Please don't hesitate to seek legal counsel and lean on friends and family for emotional support during this trying time. Wishing you strength and a positive resolution.

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