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Northwestern Professor On The Hook For "Shell Marriage" Gone Awry

By Chris Bentley in News on Jan 5, 2012 5:20PM

Northwestern Professor Charles Mills
Northwestern University professor Charles Mills married his wife Elle in 1993 to help her secure U.S. citizenship. The two are now parting ways, and Mills is on the hook for support payments — even though their “shell marriage” was never consummated.

Mills is a professor of moral and intellectual philosophy, specializing in political theory on race. He’s authored several books on the topic, including Contract and Domination and Radical Theory, Caribbean Reality.

In 2003, Mills filed for divorce but didn't tell his wife, and a judge granted him a default judgment of divorce. Elle Mills found out, and successfully challenged that judgment.

In 2009 the Cook County divorce case was tried. Judge Moshe Jacobius awarded Elle Mills about $1,000 per month along with $126,000 to be paid over three years.

The two lived together for just three months during their 17-year marriage. Mills became a U.S. citizen in 1995, but his wife never received her U.S. green card.

The Tribune reported that Jerome Kaplan, Charles Mills’ attorney on the appeal, offered this explanation for the couple’s convoluted union:

“It’s a very unusual factual situation,” he said. “People sometimes are very intelligent but don't put their intelligence to use productively. Obviously, at some point in time, they made a judgment that they were suited to each other, but as it developed it just didn't work out.”