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How might immigration issues impact child custody

Child custody matters can be rather challenging to navigate, but for immigrants in the United States, they are even more complicated. There is a fine balance that the court has to consider when it's trying to determine what needs to happen with the children. This is difficult when both parents are citizens, but adding in an undocumented immigrant or an immigrant who might opt to leave the country after the divorce makes it even harder.

There are several things that the court must consider when trying to make decisions about child custody. Understanding these might help individuals in this position to determine how to proceed with their case.

Where will the parents be living?

The location of the parents plays a role in what's going to happen with the children. The court is going to look at what options enable the child to have a stable home with meaningful relationships. If one parent is going to have to leave the country, the court may consider that possibility when it makes the decisions. As is the case in all child custody cases, the child's best interests have to be at the heart of all decisions the court makes.

Interestingly, the court won't automatically assume that it's in the child's best interests to remain in the United States. Instead, the court has to consider the possibility that the child will leave the country along with the parent who's leaving. While this isn't present in all cases involving an immigration issue, it is something to consider if a parent will be deported or is planning to voluntarily leave the country.

What immigration orders are present?

It might be possible to receive a cancelation of removal in some cases. There are specific terms that must be present if you want to petition the court for this. These include:

  • That the removal would cause an extremely unusual and exceptional hardship on the child or specific other parties
  • That you are of good moral character
  • That you were in the United States for at least 10 years
  • That you weren't being removed due to falsification of documents or failure to register
  • That you weren't deportable or inadmissible because of specific offenses

Working with someone who is familiar with child custody and the impacts of immigration might be beneficial. It's imperative that you take the time to review what's possible in your case so you know what options you have.

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