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recently publicized news story  involving the interplay of immigration laws and divorce has the legal community anxiously awaiting a verdict.  At issue in the case, out of southern Texas, is whether a former husband can be legally responsible for paying maintenance (alimony) to his former wife based not on divorce law but on a rarely-enforced immigration provision.

KerryThe parties in the case were married in 2003; the wife was a citizen of Mexico.  In order for her to obtain a green card to stay in America, her then-fiancé signed a document in which he agreed to financially support his soon-to-be wife at 125% above the poverty level (currently, the poverty level for a single person is approximately $11,500.00 annually).  The document, known as an I-864 Affidavit of Support, is theoretically a contract between the person who signs it, the spouse, and the United States Government.  The purpose of the Affidavit is to ensure that the person receiving the green card will not become a public charge—someone who relies on government assistance for support.

The parties were married for six years, had a daughter, and then the wife filed for divorce.  The husband was granted custody of the daughter.  The wife remarried, which marriage also ended in divorce.  Under Illinois law, if the wife had been awarded maintenance after the first divorce, her first husband’s obligation to pay maintenance would terminate upon the wife’s remarriage.

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