FAMILY LAW ARTICLES
Hi, I’m Ben Vojtik and I’m here to talk to you about a fairly unique nullity case here in California from 2008 called marriage of Ramirez. Now there’s a lot going on in this case. In ‘95 husband applied to the United States for citizenship. His wife was his sponsor. She wasn’t his wife at the time and they married in 1999 here in California using a Mexican wedding license with someone who wasn’t ordained here in California. The wedding license itself said that the marriage occurred in Mexico and then it was never I believe properly filed in Mexico.
So a number of reasons right on the surface that weren’t a valid marriage. There is a putative spouse discussion in the case that isn’t really current anymore because it applied more of an objective standard whereas now they’ve shifted away to more of a subject of standard. It’s possible that the court still would have found that marriage to be void or invalid because of the obvious nature of the errors in the filing of the marriage certificate.
Then they remarried in 2001. Personally, I think that would be another great argument for why the first marriage would be invalid on a subjective level. They knew that it was invalid which is why they applied then in 2001 for marriage again. They remarried and a few years later in 2004 husband’s wife files the last document necessary for the husband’s citizenship.
Two weeks later he tells her that he wants a divorce. Then wife finds out that he’s actually been sleeping with her sister since I think 2000. So for the past four years, he’s been sleeping with her sister. So the issue is nullifying the second case. Like I say the court found that the first marriage was invalid and he didn’t qualify for putative spouse status. Now wife’s claim for nullity here to nullify the marriage, she alleges that it’s avoidable marriage. The husband doesn’t get to make this allegation because it’s the husband’s conduct that is in question. So if the husband engages in fraudulent conduct then he doesn’t then get to say that the marriage is invalid due to his fraudulent conduct, only the wife gets to do that. The Court findings, in this case, are actually pretty interesting.
The court found not only that he didn’t intend to abide by the duty inherent in the party’s vows of remaining faithful because he was again, having sex still at that time he intended to continue having sex and the reason that he didn’t leave his current wife is because the court found that he still just wanted to keep having sex with the sister and it was an excuse not to make things official with the sister so long as he continued to be married. So the court found that his conduct was fraudulent, that he didn’t intend to abide by the necessary elements of the marriage at that time.
Realize subsequent occurrences don’t matter. The only intent that matters is at the time and in this case apparently, there was plenty of evidence that he never even intended to remain faithful to his wife and that he intended to continue sleeping with both her and her sister so the court did nullify the marriage and you would really need some outstanding facts if you were going to reproduce these facts in this result in California, but you know case law is on the books.
So thank you very much and have a good day.