Family Law Keyed to Weisbergback
Brief Fact Summary. Anthony requested an annulment from his wife Barbara. The trial court granted based on Barbara’s continuing relationship with a previous lover and related misrepresentations.
Synopsis of Rule of Law. An annulment requires fraud that go to the essentials of marriage.
Facts. Barbara and Anthony Radochonski were married in 1992. In 1994 Barbara filed a petition for dissolution and in early 1995 Anthony filed a counter-petition for an annulment. The trial court ruled in favor of Anthony, finding the marriage invalid on the basis of fraud in the essentials. The trial court’s findings demonstrate that Barbara lived with David Johnson, her lover, prior to marriage. After marriage, she continued her relationship with Johnson, staying at his home multiple times and meeting him in Poland. She told Anthony that Johnson was married to another woman, and Johnson and another woman posed as husband and wife on one occasion. Barbara lied to Anthony about her relationship with Johnson because she wanted to marry Anthony to obtain permanent residency status.
Issue. Did Barbara’s actions go to the essentials of marriage so as to allow for an annulment?
Held. Barbara’s actions do not go to the essentials of marriage, and therefore the trial court erred in finding the marriage invalid on the basis of fraud in the essentials.
Courts have found that when one party decides prior to the ceremony that he or she will not engage in sexual intercourse with the other after marriage, does not disclose this information to the spouse, and carries out this decision the offending spouse commits fraud in the contract of marriage.
Courts have also found fraud in an essential of marriage when a spouse has misled the other on an attribute preventing sexual relations such as impotence, venereal disease, and narcotic abuse causing impotence.
Anthony knew Barbara was looking for a husband so that she could remain in the United States and the trial court found that the two engaged in sexual intercourse. Therefore, Barbara’s actions did not go to the essentials of marriage.