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Juliana, Lawyer
Category: Family Law
Satisfied Customers: 1651
Experience:  23 years of legal experience, former child support attorney, currently practicing family law
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I just recently became US citizen through naturalization. I

Resolved Question:

I just recently became US citizen through naturalization. I am married but my wife is not living with me and since last 16 years she has been living separately with our son who is now 20 years old. She is not US citizen and she does not have any intention to join me in US. She lives back in India. Our marriage is no longer functioning since the time she went to her parents' house to live separately (16 years ago) from me. Before coming to US, back in India, I tried couple of times to see if we can live together but she refuse to join me even when I was living in India. I would like to get the divorce from her. I am not sure how I should start on this. Do I have to file case here in US and it can be tried here in US courts or do I have to go back to India and get the divorce filed there in Indian courts?
Submitted: 6 years ago.
Category: Family Law
Expert:  Juliana replied 6 years ago.



Thanks for your question. I'll be happy to assist you.


Divorces between U.S. citizens and foreign nationals are quite common here in the U.S. So long as you meet your particular state's residency requirements (generally 6-12 months), you can file your divorce petition here in the U.S., and also be granted a judgment of divorce here.


The fact that your wife is an Indian citizen and is living in India will not matter for purposes of your divorce action here in the U.S. Also, the court will not require her to return to the U.S. for the divorce action.


The court may require that certain steps be performed in order to make sure that your divorce petition is served on your wife in India, but, the ultimate result will be that you will receive your judgment of divorce here.


I suppose that as an alternative, you could also go back to India and obtain your divorce there, but, I am unable to comment on Indian law since I'm only licensed to practice here in the U.S.


Hope this helps. Good luck.


Customer: replied 6 years ago.
Hi Juliana,
Thanks for your answer.
Few more questions and clarifications.
Where I can get the residency requirement information for particular state? Is there website when I can go and find out this information? I am living in this state for last 12 years so I don't think there will be any problem in meeting that requirement.

What needs to be done to serve the divorce petition ? I am interested in initiating the divorce process so what is the first thing I need to do? Should I hire local divorce lawyer with specialization in family law OR should I have to go for lawyer who is expert in International divorce laws?

How long approximately it takes usually to get the divorce finalized from the the time the process is initiated?
Expert:  Juliana replied 6 years ago.

Good evening, and thanks for your reply.


If you'll tell me what state you're located in, I can give you specifics regarding the residency requirements for that state.


You can hire an attorney who specializes in international divorce laws, but, unless your divorce has complicated international issues (for example, property in both countries that will have to be divided between you and your wife, custody matters -- although you've said your son is 20 years old, which is past the age of majority, and therefore not a concern with respect to custody and child support, etc.), I believe a local family law attorney should be able to help you. I'm sure the international family law attorneys charge a pretty penny for their services, and for an "ordinary" divorce with no major issues to be settled, I really don't think a specialist would be necessary. But, that's up to you, and which type of attorney you would feel more comfortable with.


To serve the divorce petition, you can use an international process server (there are companies that specialize in this), or, the court will likely be able to serve the petition on your wife via certified mail, FedEx, DHL, or a similar service. The court simply needs to be assured that your wife has received a copy of the summons and divorce petition in order for the divorce to proceed.


Many states (including my own state of West Virginia) nowadays have their family law forms available for download on the Internet. Your state may likewise have them available on the Internet. Once you've told me what state you're in, I'll be able to tell you more about this.


At any rate, the first thing you'll need to do to initiate the divorce process is to file your divorce petition with the clerk of court in the county where you reside. Next, your wife will be served with the petition and notice that she will have a certain amount of time (usually 20 or 30 days, again, depending on your state law) to file an answer to the petition. At some point after that, the case will be set for final hearing. There is really no "average" amount of time that it takes for a divorce action to proceed from start to finish. If your wife is served quickly, and she is agreeable to getting the divorce, property division, etc. I would predict that everything could be completed in a matter of a few months.


Customer: replied 6 years ago.
Thanks for your prompt response.
I live in Oregon.
I think in my case there are no complications like child support or any other things. So, I think hiring lawyer who specializes in family law is good enough for me.
Regarding division of property - how this division is decided? She went to live with her parent when I was back in India and since then our marriage is not functional. Will this division be based on what I had at the time of separation? Or it is based on what I have now although there is no contribution from her for whatever wealth i have right now.
I am just wondering what are the factors that decides this distribution of wealth?
Expert:  Juliana replied 6 years ago.

To file for a divorce in Oregon, either you or your spouse must have resided in the state for 6 months prior to filing. Since you've been a resident of Oregon for a number of years, you definitely meet the residency requirement.


Here is a link to the Oregon Courts website, which contains the family law forms that are used statewide in Oregon.


You will be able to find a link to the forms on the left hand side of the page when you open the above link.


Marital property in Oregon is subject to equitable division, meaning that the judge presumes that you and your spouse contributed equally to the purchase of all of your marital property and will divide it equally between the husband and wife, unless you can prove otherwise (as in your situation). I would say that you'd be able to keep whatever property you've purchased since you and your wife split up.


Hope this helps.




Customer: replied 6 years ago.
What kind of proof(documentary and/or other type) is needed in my case to prove that my spouse did not contribute in purchase of all property after we split up. As I already mentioned we are living separately since last 16 years. She lives back in India and I am here for last 12 years. Whatever property I have right now is purchased by me after we split up and everything is in my name. There is no mention of her whatsoever and I file taxes with status as single. Can you please give me more insight as to what I would need to show to the court to prove against the assumption that my spouse contributed equally?
Expert:  Juliana replied 6 years ago.

If your wife agrees to the divorce and has no issues with the property division, it will make things much easier than if you were to have a contested divorce case, in which she were to challenge your proposed division of property.


Even if she were to contest the property division, the fact that she has been living in India and you're here in the U.S. for the past 16 years more or less speaks for itself. If you did need to provide proof to the judge of the fact that you alone have paid for everything for the past 16 years, you would have to show the judge such documents as your income tax returns, the deed to your house, the title to your vehicle, etc. to show that her name isn't on any of it.


If you hire a divorce attorney in your area, he/she can advise you on the specifics of the divorce paperwork, particularly the part regarding property.

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