In 2012, Joyce filed for a divorce, from the man she had lived with for 28 years. They even had a 27 year old son together.
“Wait a minute,” cried “hubby.” He proceeded to inform the judge that, in 1984, he discovered that Joyce had in fact forged his signature on the supposed marriage license application, the year before. And he could prove it. How? He was incarcerated at the time Joyce submitted the application. Therefore, argued our man, there never was any legal marriage. So Joyce shouldn’t even think about alimony, or about getting her grubbies on his assets. In short, the “marriage” was void. Case closed.
“Ah,” sighed the judge, as the man packed his briefcase, “but was everything in the application more or less true?”
“Well, except for my mom’s maiden name,” conceded the man.
“Didn’t you and Joyce take the blood test that was required in 1983 to apply for and obtain a marriage license.”
“Didn’t you have a religious marriage ceremony with her”?
“Religion is a good thing, in my opinion…”
“Didn’t you tell everyone for 28 years that you were husband an wife? Didn’t you file joint tax returns? Didn’t you have joint bank accounts? Didn’t you yourself use the marriage license to put Joyce on your health insurance.”
“Technicalities. I’m not a lawyer, you know.”
The judge banged his gavel and ruled that the husband, by not challenging the marriage for 27 years, and by acting as if he was in fact married to Joyce, had waived his right to challenge the marriage. “Divorce granted.”
So our boy appealed. Tragically for him, the three appellate judges agreed with the trial judge.
The moral of the story, as any happily married person can tell you, is that, for a relationship to work, you have to overlook the small stuff. Just don’t overlook it for too long.
Disclaimer: For anyone who doesn’t realize, the above contains my fanciful dramatization of what might have been said at trial. Those who want to read the actual appellate opinion may do so here: http://www.judiciary.state.nj.us/opinions/a3645-12.pdf