It has been the plot line of numerous Hollywood movies and sitcoms. A sympathetic foreigner needs to become a United States citizen so some well-meaning hero agrees to marry the wannabe-American. A Northwestern University moral philosophy professor, Charles Mills, recently discovered that Illinois divorce courts take a dim view of these so-called "shell marriages." "Shell marriage" is a term used by Mills' attorney to describe the marriage he shared with his wife of seventeen years. According to a Chicago Tribune article, the marriage was never consummated and was entered into only in an effort to help his wife, a Canadian citizen, move to the United States.
When the dust settled on the nineteen day divorce trial heard in Cook County Circuit Court, Mrs. Mills was awarded $1000 per month and $126,000 to be paid over three years. This was approximately a third of the marital estate. Mrs. Mills is appealed the ruling because she believed the support award was too low given Mr. Mills' income, the length of the marriage and the age of the parties. Recently the First District Court of Appeals
upheld the award.
This is an example of the seriousness with which Courts take the marriage relationship. It is not a relationship to be entered into lightly and it is certainly not one that should be ended on a whim. Nevertheless, if you believe you are getting divorced, you need the services of a skilled family law attorney to guide you through it and prevent your life from winding up like a punchline to a bad Hollywood sitcom.