Published on:

Woman’s Wrongful Death Suit Reinstated in California


A California court has decided belief in a marriage can, in fact, make it legal when a man marries another woman before his divorce is final.
A state appeals court reinstated the lawsuit of a woman over the death of a man she may or may not have been married to for four years. In the eyes of the law, he was her husband, even though he married her while still legally married to another woman.
Similar suits have been rejected consistently for more than two decades, New York City Estate Planning Lawyers have discovered. Court after court rejected the suit until finally the Sixth District Court of Appeal in San Jose said because the plaintiff “believed in good faith” she was, in fact, legally married, she has marital rights, which includes the right to sue another party for wrongful death.
There was a decision in 1988 that declared claiming marital rights not only had to involve a sincere belief that the marriage was valid, but be “objectively reasonable”, as well. In that case, the alimony claim of a woman was rejected because she married a man in a religious ceremony that was not recognized by California law. The husband told her the marriage was perfectly valid – then decided two years later that it was not when he decided to marry another woman.
The court then ruled the woman who had gone through the ceremony had no marital rights, because though she believed she was married, that belief was unreasonable, New York City Probate Lawyers have learned.
The more recent ruling in the current lawsuit said the 1988 decision was wrong in that it distorted a law that should protect “innocent parties of an invalid marriage.” Now the suit of a woman married in September 2003 in a church may go on, even though the man involved was still married to another woman, unknown to her.
It was three months after the wedding before the divorce became final, but the purported wife did not read the divorce papers closely. She believed herself to be legally married until the man, an ironworker, died in a workplace accident. When she sued a contractor for negligence, the suit was dismissed on the grounds that she was never married to the ironworker. This case is being studied in Long Island and Westchester County.

When it comes to the complicated affairs of estates, a New York City Estate Planning Lawyer can make all the difference when it comes to you claiming your full rights under the law. Protect yourself and your future by hiring a New York City Estate Planning Lawyer.

Contact Information