Non-citizen and immigrant spouses can add a unique level of complexity to any family law. Typically, the citizen spouse has a misguided belief that having the spouse deported is the best option to avoid financial responsibility and to gain an upper hand in custody determinations. Unfortunately, it is not this simple.
Attempts to deport a spouse can lead to criminal liability on the part of the citizen spouse.
Additionally, citizen spouses can also have an indefinite support obligation that exceeds in amount and time what the spouse may have been ordered to pay through Colorado’s Spousal Maintenance Law (C.R.S. 14-10-114). This increased support obligation is often a result of the I-864, a contract between the citizen spouse and federal government that can be enforced in any state or federal court.
In child custody determinations, immigration status has been determined to be only one factor the court is permitted to consider out of several and status alone cannot be a factor to deny a parental responsibilities. If an immigrant spouse returns to their home countries and the children are there with them or will travel internationally for parenting time, special considerations and language should be added when crafting parenting time plans.