People in Illinois might think that a prenuptial agreement will protect them from any spousal support obligations in the event of a divorce, but this is not necessarily the case. One man, a real estate agent worth about $5 million, was directed to pay alimony to his wife even though the two had signed a prenuptial agreement that said neither would owe the other spousal support.
The man and his ex-wife had signed an I-864 Affidavit of Support when she moved to the United States. This document deals with how an immigrant will be financially supported after moving to the country. Both a lower court and the Ninth Circuit ruled that the prenuptial agreement did not cancel the contract that was created by signing form I-864.
However, the lower court ruled that after the woman moved in with her son, whose income was $3,200 per month, she was amply supported and that her husband was not obligated to pay any further support. The judge in the higher court argued that such a ruling would encourage sponsors to abandon immigrants they had agreed to support and leave the responsibility to fall to others.
There are a number of reasons a prenuptial agreement might be dismissed in court. Examples include evidence that one spouse was coerced into signing or provisions in the agreement that deal with areas outside the scope of a prenup such as child custody. Whether or not a couple has a prenup, issues around property division and support may be difficult to negotiate. Some couples make an effort to collaborate on an agreement instead of turning to litigation, and in many cases, this leads to an outcome that leaves both more satisfied. Couples might also go into litigation having reached an agreement on some issues but with others unresolved.