Good morning and thank you for using Just Answer. I will be happy to provide you with assistance.
In addition to practicing Family Law for over 20 years I also practice Immigration Law, so I realize the importance of having these documents for this purpose.
I am going to point out the obvious. I pretty much already know the outcome, still I would like to offer you all possible suggestions. Did you contact your Divorce Attorney from 30 years ago who handled the divorce? As a divorce attorney myself, I know how much paperwork a Family Law attorney needs to keep track of, so generally we only keep records 3 to 5 years and then destroy them. However, you just never know. This attorney just may have the information you need floating around somewhere.
Second, have you asked the court's clerk if you can look through the micro-film yourself? If they will allow you to do this, then I am assuming you and your ex-wife can narrow the time span down to a year, search through the entire year and try and find the original copy.
If your the record has been lost or misplaced you need to do everything you can to find it. It sounds to me like you are just about there once you or the clerk search through a year of micro-film.
While you do need to provide detailed information for your I-130 (I am going to show my age and refer to INS as I never got use to the first name change and then got tired of keeping up with the new ones!) INS is usually not completely unreasonable in it's requests.
Here is what to do if, after your effort to find the Decree (the term of art used by attorneys and INS is "due diligence" i.e. you have done all you reasonably can) you are not successful. INS just loves Affidavits (a statement written by a witness and signed before a Notary). You and your ex wife should both separately write and execute Affidavits stating the date of your marriage and approximate date of your divorce. You should both state your recollections of the divorce process and proceeding giving as much detail as possible (INS loves detail) e.g.: if you were each represented by attorneys stated the names and give the current address and phone number of these attorneys also provide their bar number. You can locate your divorce attorneys if they are not in the phone book by doing a google search for "State Bar of Maryland" going to the cite and typing in the full name of the attorney. You should also both state in your affidavits your recollection of going to court. How you have relied on the fact you were divorce...if either of you remarried, if you paid any child support, if your spouse changed her name. Just every little fact you can recall about the time and process.
In your own affidavit you should state all you have done to find the Decree and all that has happened as a result of your efforts.
If you can have two individuals who are aware of the fact you did indeed divorce prepare Affidavits (INS calls these "Supporting Affidavits") this would be of great assistance.
If possible, ask the Courts' clerk to prepare a general "To Whom it May Concern" official letter to INS stating that they have attempted to locate your Decree and why their attempt was unsuccessful. The letter from the clerk need not be an affidavit or sworn to so long as it is on official stationary. Note: Generally, there is one main clerk, who is an elected official. If you are told his letter cannot be prepared ask to speak to the main clerk who is the elected official. This person is likely to be more knowledgeable and should prepare the letter for you.
Submit all the Affidavits with your I-130 and wait for them to notify you of your meeting date. While you wait for the date, I would advice you consult an Immigration Attorney for advice to have them on stand by in the event INS gives you a hassle.
Here is a link which will show you what they type of Affidavit I speak of looks like. There is no official INS form for this type of Affidavit. It is just a plain, vanilla Affidavit. Don't pay to buy this form, just retype template on your computer. You can leave a space or just type in lines so your Affiants can hand write their statements. If you would prefer to type everything out, that is up to you.
I hope this information is of help. I have used it successfully for my clients when they have been unable to locate documents or witnesses.
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hello, last year I received help from you about filing my I-130 forms for my wife and her daughter. I am not clear as to the procedure for her daughter to come to the United States also. She was listed on the same I-130 form as my wife. Now I am reading that her daughter ,who is 17 years old now, should have had a separate I -130 filed at the same time! Can you help me clear this up! I need both my wife and her daughter to come here from China at the same time! Many Thanks, Ralph Turri
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