Man ordered to financially support immigrant ex-spouse

A Texas resident who sponsors an immigrant through marriage may be required to provide support in the event they decide to get a divorce. This is because the I-864 Affidavit of Support requires immigrants to be able to financially support themselves if they move to the U.S. This prevents them from moving to the country to then use resources that are meant for U.S. citizens.

A federal case involved a real estate agent who married his Turkish ex-wife in 2009. He agreed to provide financial support for his wife and keep her income 125 percent above the poverty line. However, both parties also signed a prenuptial agreement that stated that there would be no spousal support in the event of a divorce. The ex-wife filed a lawsuit against the real estate agent for failing to provide support one month after the divorce was finalized.

Although the trial court ruled that the real estate agent did have an obligation to support his ex-wife under the I-864 Affidavit of Support, that support obligation was fulfilled by the woman’s son. On appeal, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit agreed with the lower ourt that the I-864 Affidavit of Support trumped any premarital agreements that were made. However, it disagreed with the outcome and ruled that the real estate agent still had a financial obligation to his ex-wife under federal immigration law.

The termination of a marriage can be difficult if multiple documents are signed, especially if the obligations in those marriage documents negate each other. A family law attorney may help determine which documents and obligations may be upheld by the court. If the couple has a prenuptial agreement, the attorney may argue that the obligations or agreements are negated by other signed documents, such as an I-864 affidavit. If one party is required to provide support, the attorney may negotiate the amount that should be owed.