A version of this article first appeared in the Side Bar journal for the Litigation…
In Yuryeva v. McManus a Texas appeals court stated clearly – although in dicta – that an immigrant-beneficiary could bring a subsequent contract action on the I-864 despite failing to raise enforcement in the context of her divorce proceeding. No. 01-12-00988-CV, 2013 WL 6198322, at *7 (Tex. App. Houston 1st Dist. Nov. 26, 2013) (memo. op.).
In the divorce proceeding the beneficiary had put the I-864 into evidence and had testified that the sponsor had be failing to meet support obligations, and the sponsor’s attorney had stipulated that “there was an agreement that they were to live together and [the sponsor] would support her.” The beneficiary did not, however, specifically request that the trial court “enforce” the I-864 support duty. For this reason the appeals court held the lower court did not err in failing to incorporate the support obligation into the divorce decree, but the appeals court stated that the contractual obligation survived.
Yuryeva aside, there is some question as to whether a divorce proceeding may have issue or claim preclusive effect on a beneficiary’s right to enforce a support obligation.