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Judge rules man must pay alimony despite prenup

A Florida couple might draw up a prenuptial agreement hoping it will protect both of them from spousal support obligations, but this is not always the case. On June 8, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit ruled that a divorced man who signed an Affidavit of Support to bring his immigrant spouse to the United States was still obligated to support her under that immigration document despite a prenuptial agreement that stated otherwise.

According to the terms of the prenup, neither spouse would seek alimony. However, after the two divorced, the woman filed a claim against her ex-husband stating that he must continue to support her based on the agreement and that he had only given her $3,500 to move.

A lower court agreed with her, but since she had moved in with her son, who made $3,200 per month, it also said that she had sufficient support and that her ex-husband did not have to contribute. However, the higher court said that the son's income should not be considered. The judge in that case pointed out that a person should not be released from a contractual obligation simply because another individual agreed to take up that support and expressed concern that it would lead to sponsors cutting off support payments until someone else stepped in.

A divorce can be financially devastating. In many cases, one spouse has made significant contributions to the family life and career of the other spouse but has never received monetary compensation for that support. A stay-at-home parent who has been out of the workforce for a long time may need spousal support while building a new career. A person who is considering divorce and is concerned about the subsequent financial situation might want to speak to an attorney about how best to proceed.

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