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Prenup nixed in immigrant divorce case

Alimony disputes and other divorce-related matters are not uncommon in Texas courts. Prenuptial agreements often play a role in the outcome of these disputes as two parties bring their marriage to an end. While a legally executed prenup could limit the rights of the spouse with less money at the end of a marriage, other contracts related to the relationship could come into play. This was the case with a Turkish woman who married a U.S. citizen of Turkish origin.

In sponsoring his wife-to-be to come to the U.S., the man agreed to provide sufficient support to keep her income above 125 percent of the poverty level. The couple also worked out a prenuptial agreement prior to marrying, agreeing to forgo any alimony in the event of divorce. The husband in this case had a net worth of approximately $5 million at the time of the marriage.

When the couple divorced two years later, the woman moved in with her adult son. She was able to receive food stamps, and the pair survived on the son's monthly income of $3,200. The woman brought the matter to court in California, noting that her ex-husband provided moving expenses before halting his support. Her ex-husband emphasized that the prenuptial agreement allowed him to stop supporting her, but the I-864 form related to her immigration included his promise to help her to stay above the poverty level. Although the initial court indicated that she had enough support from her son, the Ninth Circuit Court found that the husband was still obligated to his promise in the I-864 form.

While prenuptial agreements can simplify the division of property during a divorce, there can be some complex situations that demand more careful legal attention. International relationships, for example, could involve consideration of foreign assets in the property division stage or attention to foreign travel needs during child custody planning.

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