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Mother wins custody of child despite immigration status

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A young mother that is not a US citizen had a child with a man that is a citizen. The couple was only in their teens when they had their daughter, so the unmarried pair and the child lived with the father's parents -- both of whom immigrated and are legal residents. When relations dissolved between the parties, the mother took the young child and moved out. The grandparents filed for custody, citing the fact that the mother of the child is not a legal resident, and that the maternal grandmother does not live in the US.

This case caught the attention of the Advocates for Human Rights. Multiple parties felt that this young mother was a good parent, and simply because she is not a citizen is not enough grounds to take away her child. A district judge in that state granted custody to the grandparents, but an appeals court reversed that decision and felt that immigration status is not an apt reflection of an individual's parenting abilities and should not factor into awarding custody.

This decision was an emotional win for the mother, as she was understandably very relieved that her daughter would not be unjustly taken from her. Additionally, this can also be counted as a huge win for those that champion immigration rights. One attorney related to this case says of this win, "It's a great development in the law in that just because you're undocumented doesn't mean you therefore lose your kids."

As we have previously discussed, the intersection of immigration law and other branches of the law can at times become closely intertwined. It is unfair for an individual in the Washington D.C. area or anywhere else around the country to lose custody of their children simply because they are not a legal resident. In related cases in Maryland, an individual may need to seek the assistance of both a skilled family law attorney, and an immigration attorney to fight for the custody of their children.

Source: The Start Tribune, "Immigration status not a factor in custody battle, Minnesota court says," Abby Simons, April 8, 2013

  • Our firm has experience assisting individuals in the Washington D.C. area with various issues pertaining to immigration. For additional information related to that above, please refer to our page on family reunification.

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