Case Update: recognition of a foreign unilateral divorce for purposes of a U.S. citizenship application
Mr. Imad Jaffal sues the U.S. government for citizenship (Jaffal v. Thompson). The underlying issue for whether Jaffal can be granted citizenship revolves around his parents' divorce, which occurred in Jordan. Apparently, his father obtained a unilateral divorce from his mother in the shari'a court in Jordan. The divorce was revocable and then turned into an irrevocable divorce after the requisite period of time passed. Further, at the time of the divorce, both of Jaffal's parents were domiciliaries of the state of Ohio in the United States. The U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey concluded it could not recognize the Jordanian divorce, which was fatal to Jaffal's citizenship claim. The divorce was unilateral and there was no evidence that Jaffal's mother had any notice of it, therefore it was not entitled to recognition as a matter of comity as it violated public policy. Furthermore, it was, in all reality, equal to a "mail order" divorce, as neither party was domiciled in Jordan at the time of the divorce, therefore, Jaffal did not demonstrate that the Jordanian court had jurisdiction over the divorce (at least as the U.S. courts would confer jurisdiction, which is based on the domicile of at least one of the spouses).