In the Erler case, the couple entered into a prenuptial agreement prior to marrying and the family law court order for the divorce reflected this; however, the 9th Circuit panel held that the defendant husband agreed to provide the plaintiff with any support necessary to maintain her at an income that was at least 125% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines for her household size. The affidavit became a contract between the defendant sponsor and the US government for the benefit of the plaintiff.
The 9th Circuit panel found that despite the divorce, the defendant had a continuing obligation to support the plaintiff. The Court held that the income of the plaintiff's adult son, with whom plaintiff was living, could not be included in the household income equation when determining how much support the ex-husband must provide. Essentially, the husband must provide support to the beneficiary at the amount of 125% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines regardless of other income being earned in the beneficiary's household.
This is an important case that family law attorneys and US citizens considering the spousal adjustment of status process should understand before signing the I-864 affidavit of support.