Margaret Gettle Washburn, P.C.
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Clash of documents in immigrant's divorce case

Prenuptial agreements could protect both parties in case of a divorce, but there are some instances where prenups are not valid or their provisions not upheld by a court. Georgia couples might like to know about a case in California where another document took precedence over a prenup.

A real estate agent and U.S. citizen married a Turkish citizen in 2009. According to the couple's marriage contract, the realtor agreed to support his wife and keep her above the federal poverty line. The man also signed an I-864 Affidavit of Support when the woman immigrated to the U.S. This form is used to ensure that immigrants can support themselves in America even if they divorce those who sponsor their immigration. Both parties agreed not to seek alimony in a separate prenuptial agreement.

After the marriage ended, the woman lived with and was supported by her adult son. She filed a claim in federal court saying that her former husband still owed her under the I-864 Affidavit of Support. The man argued that her son supported her and kept her above the poverty line and that he did not owe her as she agreed not to take alimony. Although a lower court agreed with him, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit vacated that decision and ruled that the man must continue to pay his ex-wife under the terms of the immigration document despite the contrary terms of the prenuptial agreement.

Courts have often failed to uphold the terms of a prenuptial agreement for a variety of other reasons. Some of the most common are when one of the parties failed to make a full disclosure or where one was forced to sign it under duress. Each party to such an agreement should have separate legal representation when it is being negotiated.

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Margaret Gettle Washburn, P.C.
4799 Sugarloaf Pkwy
Building J
Lawrenceville, GA 30044

Phone: 770-676-1191
Fax: 770-963-2828
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