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Divorce complicated by immigration laws

Thousands of people living in Salt Lake City, Utah, and elsewhere are familiar with the fact that divorce proceedings can be impacted by any number of unique factors. Just as no two marriages are the same, divorce mediation often reflects the intricacies of that specific relationship. One such complexity that can play a large role in any divorce is immigration policies. A recent spousal support dispute illustrates how certain immigration laws can affect divorce cases.

The immigration law gaining attention in the divorce case addresses instances where a U.S. citizen sponsors their fiancé or spouse. In order for an individual to petition for the immigration of his or her fiancé, they must sign the I-864 affidavit. The form dictates that the sponsor is financially responsible for the immigrant unless or until the immigrant becomes a citizen, loses their residency status, or pays into Social Security for an extended amount of time.

The affidavit is intended to serve several purposes: Not only does it prohibit sponsors from deserting immigrants once they’re in the country but it also keeps immigrants from becoming dependent upon public assistance to live. Supporters of the policy note that it prevents the exploitation of government-funded programs.

Because her then ex-fiancé signed the affidavit years ago, one woman is suing him for continued support in the form of alimony. The plaintiff in the federal lawsuit claims that her ex-husband must continue to comply with the terms of the legal agreement he made with the government by ensuring she lives well above the national poverty level.

The defendant in the suit, however, argues that he should no longer be bound to the agreement because his ex-wife remarried and divorced again. He is urging for the immigration law to be altered.


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