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Q: Inmigration, divorce, future earnings ( Answered 5 out of 5 stars,   2 Comments )
Subject: Inmigration, divorce, future earnings
Category: Relationships and Society > Law
Asked by: lmsanch-ga
List Price: $20.00
Posted: 31 Jul 2003 11:02 PDT
Expires: 30 Aug 2003 11:02 PDT
Question ID: 237420
In a divorce case, can a wife who is a US citizen claim participation
on the potential future earnings of her husband, who is a US resident,
on the basis that the wife helped the husband obtain the US resident
status when they were married? The husband is a professional
perceiving a regular salary in the US and does not have a guaranteed
job in the future. There has been no accumulation of assets
whatsoever. No children, and the wife is also a professional who
is/has been able to support herself.

Request for Question Clarification by tutuzdad-ga on 31 Jul 2003 11:05 PDT
In what state?


Clarification of Question by lmsanch-ga on 31 Jul 2003 11:07 PDT
New Jersey

Request for Question Clarification by tutuzdad-ga on 10 Aug 2003 18:40 PDT
Married for how long?

Clarification of Question by lmsanch-ga on 11 Aug 2003 06:24 PDT
Married for 10 years
Subject: Re: Inmigration, divorce, future earnings
Answered By: tutuzdad-ga on 11 Aug 2003 10:22 PDT
Rated:5 out of 5 stars
Dear lmsanch-ga;

Thank you for allowing me an opportunity to answer your interesting

I am not an attorney and we cannot provide legal advice in this forum.
I can however explain what the published law says, so here we go: Your
question can actually have more than one answer; each answer actually
targets different parts of your question in certain circumstances.
This is a bit confusing so stay with me here…

First, let me address the notion of obtaining a portion of your future

New Jersey is an “equitable distribution state”, meaning that property
acquired during the marriage is equally divided between husband and
wife regardless of gender, fault, etc. This can be done either by
voluntary agreement of the parties or by order of the trial judge.
Since there are no assets accumulated in your situation, this is not
an issue, with the exception of potential earnings and lifestyle.
These are issues where one party might be entitled to enjoy a portion
of the future assets of the former spouse. New Jersey courts consider
the following factors when deciding equitable distribution (From

a. The duration of the marriage;

b. The age of the parties;

c. The physical health of the parties;

d. The emotional health of the parties;

e. The income brought to the marriage by each party;

f. The property brought to the marriage by each party;

g. The standard of living established during the marriage;

h. Any written agreement made by the parties before or during the
marriage concerning an arrangement of property distribution;

i. The economic circumstances of each party at the time the division
of property becomes effective;

j. The income of each party;

k. The earning capacity of each party, including educational
background, training, employment skills, work experience, length of
absence from the job market, custodial responsibilities for children,
the time and expense necessary to acquire sufficient education or
training to enable the party to become self-supporting at a standard
of living reasonably comparable to that enjoyed during the marriage;

l. The contribution by each party to the education, training or
earning power of the other;

m. The contribution of each party to the acquisition, dissipation,
preservation, depreciation or appreciation in the amount or value of
the marital property,

n. The contribution of a party as a homemaker;

o. The tax consequences of the proposed distribution to each party;

p. The present value of the property;

q. The need of a parent who has physical custody of a child to own or
occupy the marital residence and to use or own the household effects;

r. The debts and liabilities of the parties;

s. The need for creation, now or in the future, of a trust fund to
secure reasonably foreseeable medical or educational costs for a
spouse or children; and

t. Any other factors which the Court may deem relevant.

Now while some of this might not apply in your situation, some of it
obviously does. Your ability to provide a certain standard of living
that your estranged spouse cannot or does not provide on her own may
very well become a factor in the distribution of future earnings. So,
in short, the answer to your question (and I re-phrase here) “is a New
Jersey wife entitled to a portion of her husband’s future earnings?”,
is Yes, wives are occasionally awarded a portion of their divorced
husband’s future earnings in New Jersey. Now, let me say this, since
New Jersey is an equitable distribution state, you might be equally
entitled to your wife’s future earnings using the same claim of need
and entitlement.

Secondly, and finally, let me address your wife’s supposed claim of
entitlement based on assistance she might have provided you in
obtaining US residency: The claim of entitlement is based ON THIS ACT
ALONE is complete nonsense. Once you are established as a US resident
you are as equally entitled to live here, work here and enjoy the
fruits of your labor as she is without obligation. Having said that,
the answer is NO - she cannot claim entitlement based only on the fact
that she helped you become a US resident. If she made financial
contributions 10 years ago in order to help you become a US resident,
she did so freely (unless you had some other agreement) as a financial
investment in the marriage that you both ultimately enjoyed, so it
isn’t likely that you’d be obligated to repay her for that either.
However – and here’s the catch - if your wife can convince the court
that her support and non-financial contributions to the marriage
directly led to your professional advancement and that these
contributions were instrumental in helping you to achieve a standard
of living far greater than you might have earned on your own, then
YES, she very well might be able to claim entitlement to future
earnings on this basis. AGAIN – and this is important – because New
Jersey is an equitable distribution state, this claim can swing both
ways. You are just as free to make the same claim, asserting that your
support and non-financial contribution to the marriage equally
empowered HER to become capable of achieving a certain standard of
living to which YOU are also entitled to enjoy. Such a counter-claim
often leads to mediation and out-of-court settlement, allowing both
parties to go on with their lives without obligation to the other
provided there are no other assets or children involved. It should be
noted here that New Jersey decides divorces on a case-by-case basis so
there is no way to be certain what any court will decide with regard
to any particular divorce settlement.

I hope you find that that my research exceeds your expectations. If
you have any questions about my research please post a clarification
request prior to rating the answer. I welcome your rating and your
final comments and I look forward to working with you again in the
near future. Thank you for bringing your question to us.

Best regards;








Google ://





lmsanch-ga rated this answer:5 out of 5 stars

Subject: Re: Inmigration, divorce, future earnings
From: hedgie-ga on 31 Jul 2003 22:03 PDT
There may be serious consequences of placing any
monetary value on 'helping to obrain residency by marriage'

As quoted here:
".., the couple must establish that the marriage is bona fide, i.e. in
good faith. Basically, they must establish that the marriage was
entered into with the intention of being together as a couple and not
solely for the purpose of obtaining an immigration benefit...."
Even after benefit was obtained, and even though marriage was genuine,
the questions about the 'state of mind' and 'past intent' may
be raised. Since 
".. All forms are signed under penalty of perjury, and the signatory
is subject to substantial criminal penalties...."

It may be safer to avoid that particular avenue to riches.
Subject: Re: Inmigration, divorce, future earnings
From: expertlaw-ga on 10 Aug 2003 18:36 PDT
Dear lmsanch,

No matter how little basis there is a claim in law, any claim can be
made, and the question becomes whether a court would find the claim to
have merit. I think the primary reason that your question remains
unanswered is that you are essentially asking researchers to "prove a
negative". I doubt that there is any actual case law on this subject,
so although an answer can probably be provided that gives relative
certainty it probably wouldn't be based upon established precedent.

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