Divorce Hinges on Legal Technicality

A New Jersey couple with assets worth hundreds of millions of dollars are facing a court decision that hangs on a technicality over the date of their wedding and the date the marriage license was issued.

Million-Dollar Divorce Case Threatened

Attorneys for the husband have made motions to dismiss the divorce filing since the marriage was never legally valid. They are citing an appellate court ruling that declares a license to be married must be obtained before the marriage ceremony, voiding some ceremonial marriages.

The couple was married on December 12, 1993, but their marriage license was issued on December 21. The wife's attorneys have filed documents that proved the couple behaved as though they were married, including jointly filed tax returns and greetings cards where the husband referred to the woman as his wife.

There are also accusations of abuse in the marriage. The wife was found in December 2013 half-conscious at the bottom of stairs in the house. She alleged her husband had shoved her down the stairs. He was charged with aggravated assault and ordered to enter a pretrial intervention program to drop the charge.

The husband's father is one of the wealthiest people in America, and the husband himself has a stakes in the Minnesota Vikings football team. The wife claims she had no knowledge of this until around their wedding day.

How the Law Will Be Used

New Jersey is an equitable distribution state, meaning that each person receives what the court deems to be fair. This does not mean that assets will be evenly distributed. The court will look at separate and marital property, duration of the marriage, children, and spousal contribution to the marriage when dividing assets in a divorce. It may also consider any accusations of infidelity or assault that might have contributed to the end of the marriage. Considering the abuse allegation that was leveled at the husband, the divorce settlement could reach hundreds of millions of dollars.

The legal position being used by the husband has been successful in other divorce cases, but will generally come down to common sense. The wife's proof of marriage related to other legal and social documents may be able to sway the court to recognize their marriage as legitimate.