Family Law Prof Blog

Editor: Margaret Ryznar
Indiana University
Robert H. McKinney School of Law

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Voiding Marriage after Spouse's Death in WI

From Joe Forward for the State Bar of Wisconsin:

June 21, 2012 – The Wisconsin Supreme Court may soon decide whether Wisconsin courts can “void” marriages after a spouse has died despite the state’s annulment statute, which does not allow marriages to be “annulled” after a party to the marriage has died.

In the case, the former step-children of a deceased woman, Nancy Laubenheimer, are entitled to an estimated $768,000 under her will, but only if the court declares her marriage to Joseph McLeod void. They accuse McLeod of marrying Laubenheimer when she was incapacitated.

Read more here.


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Annulment law is well settled. This ruling would violate decades of annulment law because a 'void' marriage is a marriage that is wiped out legally. This ruling would not make sense.

Posted by: Divorce Forms | Jun 26, 2012 7:01:34 AM

If anyone is interested in knowing more about these issues, including a proposed solution, I have a law review article on the subject. The abstract and full-text download can be found below.

I make the argument that heirs and potential beneficiaries should be allowed to challenge the property consequences of the marriage (based on, for example, capacity, fraud and undue influence) even if they cannot challenge the marriage itself. Florida has passed a statute structured on my proposal.

Posted by: Terry L. Turnipseed | Jun 26, 2012 10:28:31 AM

Thanks Terry, that's helpful.

Posted by: Margaret Ryznar | Jun 26, 2012 2:20:19 PM

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