You meet someone, fall in love, and get married. Your new spouse is not authorized to permanently live and work in the United States; therefore, you file a petition with the U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services. The petition is approved and your spouse becomes a permanent resident after adjusting status from within the U.S. or getting his visa abroad. Unfortunately, after several years, the marriage ends in divorce. During the divorce proceedings, your spouse brings up the Affidavit of Support that you signed when you filed the family petition. The judge orders you to support your now ex-spouse pursuant to the terms of the Affidavit of Support.
Sometime after the divorce, as a result of your obligation to provide financial support to your ex-spouse and other debts, you find yourself in a precarious financial situation and decide to file for bankruptcy relief. You think that after the bankruptcy, all your debts, including the one to your ex-spouse, will be eliminated, allowing for a fresh start. Your ex-spouse disagrees and files a complaint in your bankruptcy case asking the court to determine that the debt to him is not dischargeable.
What is the Court’s decision? That your ex-spouse is correct and the debt owed to him pursuant to the Affidavit of Support is a non-dischargeable domestic support obligation and the same will survive the bankruptcy. You will continue to be responsible for the support of your ex-spouse even after receiving your bankruptcy discharge and will only be able to eliminate your obligation under the terms of the Affidavit of Support if one of the following situations occurs:
1. You die;
2. Your ex-spouse dies;
3. Your ex-spouse becomes a US citizen;
4. Your ex-spouse permanently departs the US; or,
5. Your ex-spouse is credited with 40 qualifying quarters of work.
If you would like to learn more about bankruptcy and immigration, please contact Evelyn J. Pabon Figueroa, Esq., at email@example.com or (407) 647-7887.