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Court dismisses prenup, orders spousal support

Ohio residents who are considering a prenuptial agreement may want to keep in mind that one man was required to pay alimony to his wife despite having signed such a document because she was an immigrant. A court ruled that as her sponsor, he had to continue to support her.

The husband, a real estate agent, is a U.S. citizen from Turkey who married a Turkish woman in 2009. He had agreed that he would keep her at least 125 percent above the poverty line, but in a prenup, they also agreed that there would be no spousal support. The two separated in 2011 and divorced later. The woman moved in with her adult son after the separation, and he made $3,200 per month. She said that she could not get her Turkish pension while in the United States, and she received food stamps. She also said that under the I-864, the Affidavit of Support they signed when she immigrated, he owed her more than the $3,500 he had given her to pay for her move.

A lower court ruled that the husband, who worth is around $5 million, did not owe alimony, but the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit vacated that ruling. The immigration document superseded the prenuptial agreement.

There are other circumstances in which a prenup might not prevent a person from having to pay alimony. For example, if a court feels that one person was pressured into signing, the prenup might be set aside. This pressure might be suggested by a prenup signed just before the wedding or with a lack of legal counsel for the party earning less.

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