Get documents from the right sources – AGLA tells Ghanaians
by Kofi Ayim
The United States Immigration and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) no longer accepts Statutory Declaration of divorce in customary marriage from Ghana from sources other than those legally approved. This advice was given to a cross-section of Ghanaians by the American Ghanaian Lawyers Association (AGLA), at a Legal Clinic organized by the Council of Ghanaian Association, New Jersey (COGA-NJ) and hosted by the Presbyterian Church of Ghana, Orange, NJ November 22, 2015. It is a herculean task to prove divorce in customary marriage because there are virtually no laws and no proper documentation. Other documents executed by unlicensed and under-tree commissioners-of oath would also not be accepted in U.S. Courts. AGLA posited that documents acquired through the legal system in Ghana are recognized in the U.S. and therefore advised Ghanaians to go through the Courts of law to avoid unnecessary delays and/or outright denial of cases in pursuit. AGLA pointed out that divorce laws in different countries are treated differently by the USCIS, and emphasized that the USCIS does not accept electronic medium as proof. U.S. laws allow marriage to be effected the next day after divorce, but advised caution if there is an immigration component into the new marriage. AGLA also pointed out that for spouses pursuing permanent status for loved ones living outside the U.S., it does not help to not seeing one another in a long time. The interactive clinic also fielded diverse questions on the rights and responsibilities of Diaspora Ghanaians in the U.S. Adoption laws in Ghana, according to AGLA are complex, especially where there is a living biological parent. Ghana’s adoption law is basically limited to complete orphans. AGLA also explained that Living Will is domiciled-based and territory specific and urged Ghanaians to act accordingly. “Don’t do Wills in Ghana if you reside in the U.S. , otherwise it could be challenged and/or thrown out in either the Courts of Law in Ghana or the U.S.,” it declared. The spirited clinic was prosecuted by a 10-member delegation of AGLA led by its President Kwaku Agyemang-Boafoh. Present at the event was Ghana’s Consul General, the Hon. Bernard Quantson. In a brief contribution, Hon. uantson assured the audience that the Consulate would seek to interact more with the Ghanaian community so issues of concern could be discussed and addressed.
AGLA members present were esqs. John Akpalu, Ramseyer Awuku, Evelyn Latse, Desmond Dawuni, Eric Okyere-Darko, Kwadwo Addo-Prempeh, Emmanuel Ntiamoah, Thelma Ofori and Edward Osei.