Federal Immigration Law vs. State Visitation and Support Law: Which Prevails?

Mother and Father separate. Child, a US citizen, lives with Mother and spends weekends with Father.

Federal government brings deportation proceedings against Father for multiple driving convictions.

How do immigration court and family court impact each other?

There are reportedly few guidelines for judges or parties when immigration law and family law collide with each other head-on.

Federal trial court allows Father to remain in the US, so Father can follow state court visitation and child support order (based on higher US calculations). The Court concluded that federal immigration law should defer to state policy in family law.

But a federal appeals court reversed the ruling and sent it back to the trial court. The federal government argued that the case should be viewed no differently than a run of the mill relocation case where the custodial parent seeks to move to another state.

The federal court agreed, ruling that the noncustodial parent could live in a border town – and the children could visit in the deported parent’s country. Of course, that may sit better in theory than in practice.

Whatever the outcome, Father will be violating one of two US court orders.

State courts generally only consider immigration issues from the perspective of whether the immigrant parent will likely flee with the child.

But what if the deported parent simply kept the child in the other country after visitation?

With stricter enforcement immigration laws, family court issues are anticipated to turn up in immigration courts with increasing frequency. Are they ready?

Read more in this Los Angeles Times article: Custody case of Long Beach boy complicates deportation of illegal immigrant.