Stephanie L. Tang Shares Insights on Enforcing an I-864 Affidavit in ISBA’s Family Law Newsletter

Stephanie L. Tang discusses the first-of-its-kind opinion related to the enforcement of Form I-864 Affidavit of Support in an Illinois divorce in an article published in the July 2021 issue of the Illinois State Bar Association’s Family Law newsletter.

In the article, “Enforcing an I-864 Affidavit in an Illinois Divorce,” co-written with family law attorney Russell D. Knight, founder of the Law Office of Russell D. Knight, Stephanie and Russell discuss the Illinois Appellate Court’s recently issued opinion in In re Marriage of Bychina.

The two discuss the terms of an I-864 Affidavit which include the promise that an American citizen sponsor spouse should maintain their immigrant spouse at 125 percent of the federal poverty level. The affidavit outlines a list of “termination events,” which does not include divorce, meaning that the immigrant spouse and government agency may sue the sponsor for an amount they believe the sponsor owes. In June 2021, an immigrant spouse did just that.

In Bychina, the immigrant spouse filed a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage, including a count alleging the breach of a federal contract. The Illinois trial court declined to rule on the petition because Illinois divorce law conflicted with the Affidavit of Support obligations under federal law, among other reasons.

The Second District Illinois Appellate Court reversed and remanded the trial court’s decision to decline jurisdiction and noted that the sponsor spouse’s obligations under I-864 are separate from any obligations they may have under Illinois divorce law.

Read the full article here.

Stephanie practices in all areas of family law, providing personalized attention to her clients throughout the litigation and settlement process. She is a certified mediator, a Fellow with Collaborative Divorce Illinois and a Certified Financial Litigator with the American Academy for Certified Financial Litigators. She has appeared on many podcasts and continuously shares family law insights through webinars.



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