How a simple legal loophole could cost one divorcee millions

How a simple legal loophole could cost one divorcee millions

Most people’s understanding of divorce is that they will be subject to certain laws that will dictate everything from how the couple separates to what will happen to their stuff when they do. Unfortunately though, most people are relatively unaware of the finer points of the law that can actually wreak havoc on the divorce process and leave one or both spouses in need of legal counsel.

Residents here in North Carolina can see this playing out in a New Jersey courtroom where the timing of one couple’s wedding is now raising questions about the validity of their union and whether their split will be subject to state divorce laws.

The legal issue the couple is currently facing stems from the wording of the state’s marriage licensing laws. The law “requires couples to obtain a marriage license before their ceremony.” But in this particular case, the license was not issued until 16 days after the ceremony. It’s because of this small loophole, the husband claims, that their 20-year marriage was not valid and is therefore not subject to normal divorce proceedings.

The man’s wife disagrees though and has submitted evidence — including wedding invitation responses and anniversary cards — that proves they were not only married but have been living as man and wife for the entirety of the relationship. According to her, her husband’s invocation of this law is merely a way for him to “escape having to pay [her] an equitable distribution which could total hundreds of millions of dollars.”

Source: The Wall Street Journal, “Son of Minnesota Vikings Part-Owner Says He Wasn’t Legally Married to His Wife,” Yoni Bashan and Heather Haddon, Sept. 18, 2014

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