August 30, 2008
Case Law Development: Phillipines Supreme Court finds husband's homosexuality insufficient to declare marriage void
The Phillipines Supreme Court's 3rd Division, in a twenty page decision, reversed a lower court's ruling declaring an eleven year opposite-sex marriage void because of the husband's homosexuality. The Supreme Court found the trial court erred by only considering the husband's alleged homosexuality rather than requiring proof that the husband concealed his sexual identity from the wife at the time of the marriage.
A report of the case in a Phillipines newspaper is available here (RR last visited August 30, 2008)
August 21, 2007
Case Law Development: Collateral Attack on Previous Divorce
The Tennessee Court of Appeals reviewed the standards for permissible collateral attacks on prior divorce decrees and reemphasized the very narrow range of situations in which these attacks can be successful. The case involved a divorce action brought by Wife against her fourth Husband. Husband counterclaimed with an action for annulment, claiming that Wife's prior divorce against second Husband, now deceased, was without jurisdiction and thus void, making the current marriage invalid as bigamous. Husband argued that Wife's service of second husband by publication left that court without jurisdiction and denied second husband's due process rights. The trial court agreed, granted the annulment and divided the couple's property according to title, rather than the equitable distribution statute. The court of appeals reversed, holding that, while lack of jurisdiction can be a basis for a collateral attack on a divorce, the lack of jurisdiction must appear on the face of the record, not from parol evidence. Here, the record of the prior divorce showed that Wife had made a diligent search for second husband's whereabouts and was unable to locate him. Her deposition testimony in the current action could not be introduced to attack that finding. Moreover, to the extent publication notice was insufficient as a matter of due process, that issue was not a grounds for an attack on the prior divorce by a stranger to that action. Service of process is a personal right that can be waived (the court noted that second husband had never attacked the divorce and had, indeed, remarried himself).
Hawkins v. Hawkins, Tennessee Court of Appeals (August 20, 2007)
Opinion online (last visited August 21, 2007 bgf)
March 26, 2006
Philippine Supreme Court Says Deception is Basis for Annulment
The Philippine Supreme Court granted an annulment of a 10-year marriage after finding that the wife's "paranoid jealousy" made her psychologically incapable of performing the basic obligation of marriage. The court gave weight to a psychologist who testified that the woman was a pathological liar who continued with her deception even after the consummation of her marriage. In its opinion the court observed that "Any sort of deception between spouses, no matter the gravity, is always disquieting. Deceit to the depth and breadth, dark and irrational as in modern noir tale, dims any trace of certitude on the guilty spouse's capability to fulfill the marital obligations even more." Source: Sun Star, Manila, sunstar.com. For the complete story, please click here (last visited March 26, 2006, reo).
December 17, 2005
Zellweger and Chesney Marriage – A Mystery?
Oscar-winning actress Renee Zellweger and her husband, country singer Kenny Chesney met in January, were married in May, and in September Ms. Zellweger asked for annulment after 128 days of marriage, the first reason quoted in the papers being “fraud”.However, they have recently been spotted at restaurants apparently enjoying each other’s company. Some speculate they are going to get back together. Source: news.sofpedia.com. For more information, please click here (last visited December 17, 2005).
September 20, 2005
Case Law Development: Burden of Proof in Annulment Actions
Nowdays, it seems that you only hear about annulments when pop stars wake up from the party a few days later and regret their impetuousness. Here’s a nice old-fashioned annulment case. Wife files for divorce after 13 years of marriage. Husband counterclaims for annulment, arguing that Wife was already married at the time she and Husband wed. Wife is required to produce a copy of the decree divorcing her from her first husband, which proves that the divorce came after the second marriage. But the trial court says the divorce decree is not proof that first husband was then alive. Because Husband did not prove that wife was not a widow before she became a second wife, the trial court granted a divorce rather than annulment.
The Hawai'i Court of Appeals reversed and remanded for a new trial. The court notes that the divorce decree had the effect of shifting the burden of proof to Wife to show that her first husband was not alive or not married to her at the time of her second marriage. The court's opinion cites a range of annulment-for-bigamy cases from other states from Kansas in 1885 to South Carolina in 2004.
Tagupa v. Tagupa, 2005 Haw. App. LEXIS 383 (September 15, 2005)
Opinion on the web at http://www.courts.state.hi.us/page_server/LegalReferences/73DFB8859867A628EAE7AB3DC5.html (last visited September 19, 2005 bgf)
AND JUST FOR FUN...
For annulments of more star-studded litigants, you can read about Brittany Spear's annulment of her hours-long marriage (for impetuousness as best as I can read the court's decision) or perhaps you'd like to see the petition for annulment of the day-long Dennis Rodman/Carmen Electra marriage (on the grounds of "unsound mind") or maybe you'd prefer to hear actress Renee Zellweger and country singer Kenny Chesney's talk about their planned annulment of their 5-month marriage (on the grounds of fraud - "but it's just legal language").