The Ninth Circuit ruled that a real estate agent must continue to provide for his former wife even though they both signed a prenuptial agreement that nixed spousal support. According to the court, immigration documents set forth an expectation that an immigrant's sponsor will provide support regardless of what other agreements say. This is designed to prevent a person from entering the country, divorcing a spouse and then becoming reliant on public services.
According to the ex-wife, the man had only provided her with $3,500 to cover moving expenses. She also receives support from her son's $3,200-a-month income, food stamps and a Turkish pension. In a ruling made by a lower court, a judge reasoned that the income made up for the lack of support from the husband. However, the Ninth Circuit discounted the fact that she had other sources of income.
Essentially, it was determined that contracts must be enforced to the reasonable expectations of both parties. In a ruling for the majority, the Ninth Circuit court found that by taking outside income into account, it could lead to a sponsor holding out for a charity to make required payments in future cases. In a ruling issued by dissenting judges, it was noted that requiring support payments by the man could put him at risk of being a dependent at some point.
Spousal support is designed to help an individual maintain a basic standard of living immediately following a divorce. Factors such as other sources of income, the length of the marriage and age may be considered when determining the length and amount of support. If a prenuptial agreement exists, it may determine whether or not support is granted. A lawyer might be able to review such a document and determine if it is valid.