By Atty. Kenneth Reyes
It is a common situation specially within the Filipino community in California to listen to paralegal marketing about “Quick” Nevada divorces.Â Since there is no divorce in the Philippines,Â many FilipinosÂ come to the US still married toÂ their spouse in the Philippines.
After settling in the US,Â some Filipinos in this situation end upÂ meeting an American boyfriend or girlfriend who is willing to marryÂ him or her andÂ PetitionÂ him or herÂ for a green card.Â Although the Filipino lives in California, he or she decides to listen to the “Quick Nevada Divorce” pitch that is being made by a lot of paralegal offices and end up hiring the paralegal to do their Nevada divorce for a very low fee.
The problem with this is that states have a residency requirement before you can file a divorce.Â In California,Â you have to reside in the state for at least 6 months and in the County for at least 3 months prior to filing the divorce petition.Â In Nevada, you must have resided in the state of Nevada for at least 6 weeks prior to filing the divorce petition.
Often, these paralegal offices would fraudulently use someÂ dummyÂ Nevada addressÂ even though the divorce petitioner actually resides in California.Â The Department of Homeland Security (formerly INS) is aware of this issue.Â Adjudications officer may inquire whether you actually lived in Nevada if you present a Nevada divorce judgment.Â The DHS may even request additional evidence that you actually resided in Nevada.Â If your biographical form G-325 does not list Nevada as a residence, that can also raise a red flag.Â If the DHS determines that you never actually resided in Nevada for the required length of time, they can treat your Nevada Divorce Judgment as invalid.Â Â As such, you are still legally married to your ex husband in the Philippines which has the effect of invalidating your marriage to the US Citizen spouse as bigamous.
It is very important for California residents to file their divorce petition in California and not in Nevada if they have not resided in Nevada.Â This is even more important if the divorce petitioner intends to later on file an immigration application based on a marriage petition by a US Citizen.Â To avoid these problems, you should retain the representation of an experienced attorney to make sure that your divorce is done properly and your marriage legally terminated prior to applying for marriage based immigration benefits.
Attorney Kenneth Ursua Reyes was President of the Philippine American Bar Association. He is a member of both the Family law section and Immigration law section of the Los Angeles County Bar Association. He is a graduate of Southwestern University Law School in Los Angeles and California State University, San Bernardino School of Business Administration. He has extensive CPA experience prior to law practice. LAW OFFICES OF KENNETH REYES, P.C. is located at 3699 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 700, Los Angeles, CA, 90010. Tel. (213) 388-1611 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit our website at kenreyeslaw.com.