Does The Law Recognize Fathers With A Green Card?


I have a green card, and my wife and I have been married for a little over ten years. My mother-in-law runs our house.  She told me that I do not have the right to get custody of my two children should we get divorce, because I am not a citizen. Is she telling me the truth?  Does the law not recognize fathers with a green card where custody is concerned?




Your immigration or citizenship status does not prevent you from pursuing your parental rights or custody.  If you would be leaving the United States upon a divorce and the court finds that it would be in the best interests of the children for you to have custody of them, the court may award you custody despite the relocation of the children to another country.  Whether you could obtain custody of your children will be influenced, among other relevant factors, by your parenting skills, your ability to support your children, your post-divorce home environment, the relationships of the children with their mother and their current community, and the needs of your children.


Richard Coffee is a Litigation Manager in the Belleville Illinois office of Cordell & Cordell. He is an experienced divorce attorney whose practice is devoted to domestic litigation. He is licensed in the State of Illinois and is admitted to practice law in the U.S. District Courts for Northern, Central and Southern Illinois.

Mr. Coffee has extensive domestic litigation trial experience representing clients in courts throughout Illinois on all aspects of domestic litigation, including the representation of clients who are current or retired military personnel with issues under the Soldiers and Sailors Civil Relief Act and the Uniformed Services Former Spouses’ Protection Act, clients involved in state court jurisdictional disputes due to the relocation of one or both parties from or to Illinois, and clients with government or private pension benefit valuation and division issues.

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