Tacoma Family Law FAQs

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Citizenship is granted by birth by being either born on U.S. soil or by being born outside of the U.S. to parents who are U.S. citizens. Naturalization is the acquisition of nationality after birth. A naturalized citizen is entitled to the same rights and privileges as a natural born citizen under the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

A non-immigrant visa allows an individual to enter the U.S. for a short-term, temporary stay. Most non-immigrant visas are issued for a certain length of time and are renewable. Common types of non-immigrant visas include student visas, travel visas, and business investor visas.

An immigrant visa confers permanent residence status and allows an individual to enter the U.S, take up permanent residence, and obtain a green card.

There are a number of visas that are available to those who wish to permanently immigrate to the U.S. Common types of these visas include fiancé visas (if you are a foreign national that is engaged and intends to marry a U.S. citizen), family visas (if you are the relative of a U.S. citizen and wish to immigrate to the U.S.) , and work visas (if you have labor or work skills that are needed in the U.S. and have a job offer from a U.S. employer that is willing to sponsor you for a green card).

An Adjustment of Status is the process for eligible individuals who are living in the U.S. to change their status from non-immigrant to immigrant. This allows for an eligible individual to apply to become a lawful permanent resident of the U.S. without having to leave the U.S. to apply for an immigrant visa.

You may qualify for a green card through employment if you have an offer of full-time, permanent, U.S. based work from an employer that is also permanently located in the U.S. You also must have the proper background for the job you have been offered and the employer must be willing to sponsor you for a green card and undergo a labor certification process.

If you wish to obtain citizenship through the naturalization process after obtaining a green card, you must meet certain requirements. You may qualify for naturalization if (1) you have been a permanent resident for at least 5 years and meet all other eligibility requirements; (2) you have been a permanent resident for 3 years or more and meet all eligibility requirements to file as a spouse of a U.S. citizen; (3) you have qualifying service in the U.S. armed forces and meet all other eligibility requirements; or (4) your child may qualify for naturalization if you are a U.S. citizen, the child was born outside the U.S., the child is currently residing outside the U.S., and all other eligibility requirements are met.

No. If you are a permanent resident your status does not expire even though your green card will expire. When your green card’s expiration date is 6 months away, you will need to apply to renew it by completing the Form I-90 and submitting the required fees and information. If you are ready and eligible to apply for U.S. citizenship, you can submit the citizenship application instead of renewing your green card.

You can lose your permanent resident status if you violate the law, such as by committing a crime, or violate the terms of your residency, such as by staying out of the U.S. and living abroad for too long. Such violations could make you removable (deportable) and the USCIS might start Immigration Court proceedings against you.

You may be able to seek relief and avoid deportation/removal. Some common ways you may be able to seek relief through are Cancellation of Removal for Lawful Permanent Resident, Cancellation of Removal for Non-Permanent Resident, U Visa, or Asylum/Withholding of Removal/Convention Against Torture.

You may qualify for a U visa if (1) you have been a victim of a qualifying criminal activity and this crime occurred in the U.S. or violated U.S. law; (2) you have suffered substantial physical or mental abuse in the course of or as a result of this criminal activity; (3) you are able to provide useful information about the criminal activity; (4) you are cooperating with U.S. law enforcement in order to bring the perpetrator to justice; and (5) you are admissible to the U.S. or are applying for a waiver.

Qualifying crimes are violent crimes (such as murder, robbery, or domestic violence), enslavement crimes (such as kidnapping, human trafficking, or forced labor), sex crimes (such as rape or prostitution), obstruction of justice crimes, and fraud in foreign labor contracting.

You may qualify as a refugee or an asylee if you have experienced persecution in the past or you have a fear of persecution in the future in your home country.

If you are physically outside of the U.S., you must apply for refugee status rather than asylum. Refugees usually must be outside of their country of origin but some individuals may be processed in their home countries. You will need to apply to the U.S. government even if you have been designated as a refugee by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

To apply for asylum, you must be in the U.S. and must file your asylum application within 1 year after you arrive in the U.S. After your application and additional required documents have been submitted to the appropriate office, you will be called in for an interview and will receive a decision in writing a few weeks later.

In Washington State the soonest that a divorce can be finalized is 90 days after both filing and service have occurred. However, a contested divorce can potentially take a year or longer to resolve. The amount of time that a specific case will require will depend entirely on the issues of the individual case.

This is dependent upon the issues that are involved. The initial process is to begin the process by filing a petition and summons. Once the other person is served, then the process begins. If you cannot wait until finalization of the process to get relief, you can always ask the court for temporary orders to carry you through the process.

It does not.

Generally, no, as it is not possible to guess as to what the other side is going to do. However, if your divorce is issue specific it is possible to give you a fairly close estimate.

Everyone has a right to be heard by the court. However, you do not need your spouse’s “permission” or agreement in order to get a divorce. Fighting it, though, does increase the financial and emotional costs of the process.

You can get a legal separation which will, in essence, give you all the “benefits” of a divorce without obtaining a divorce. This is an option for some people who need to remain as a “dependent” of the other spouse for financial reasons, such as medical coverage, or for religious reasons.

You need to promptly and formally respond to avoid the other side getting court orders in your absence.

The law is gender neutral when it comes to custody; so there are many factors that the court considers when determining custody.

The law requires that the property and debts be divided in a fair and equitable manner.

This depends on many factors. You will need to consult with an attorney who can discuss your case with you and determine whether or not this would apply in your case.

Technically both parents pay child support! The amount one parent pays directly to the other (called a transfer payment) depends on many factors, for example, who has custody, how much both parents make, the amount of visitation the noncustodial parent gets, and whether-or-not there are children from other relationships.

You can still get a divorce in Washington if you are in the military. Any rights or benefits you receive from the military will be factored in to the divorce process.

A divorce is a very complicated process. In the divorce process you only get one chance to have it done correctly. You need an attorney to help you navigate the process and to make sure all of your rights are being represented.

Generally, no. There are, however, some minor exceptions.

That may be an option to you. Also, in some cases a step parent can have rights to remain in the lives of your step children.

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