Mr. Adjei and the U.S. government filed cross motions for summary judgment in a recent case before the U.S. District Court for the EDVa. On March 23, 2021, the court granted the U.S. government’s motion for summary judgment, but denied Mr. Adjei’s.
This case revolves around USCIS’s denial of Mr. Adjei’s 2014 application for naturalization. The key argument used by the U.S. government to deny his application was that Mr. Adjei’s wife was not legally divorced from her first Husband before she married Mr. Adjei, and therefore, his marriage, on which his application was based, is void.
Petitioner’s wife married her first Husband in June 1996 in Ghana, lived there for three years before moving with her Husband to the United States, and, while residing in the United States, divorced that Husband according to Ghanaian law in April 2001. This divorce involved the wife’s father and the husband’s uncle submitting declarations of the divorce, later confirmed in the Ghana courts. In April 2001, Petitioner married his wife, who then petitioned for his permanent resident status a few months later.
The court concluded that Petitioner’s wife’s divorce in 2001 was not entitled to comity as neither spouse was domiciled in Ghana at the time of the divorce. Petitioner argued an alternative test for comity, saying that the court should look at the connections formed by the divorcing spouses to the jurisdiction where they were divorced, such as their marriage having occurred in Ghana, having lived in Ghana during their marriage, having notice of the divorce, and being citizens of Ghana at the time of divorce. The court rejected this test, indicating it may be applicable if the Wife were single and now trying to argue for recognition of her divorce, but this situation requires the traditional comity analysis. If the spouses pursue a foreign divorce, without either spouse having been domiciled in that foreign jurisdiction, the United States will not recognize that divorce decree as a matter of comity.