Common Law Marriage Claim

A Grayson County resident married a woman from overseas.  They subsequently divorced after a number of years of marriage.  He died approximately a year later.  Shortly before he died, he executed a will that left her a minor portion of the estate, with the rest to his two brothers.

The brothers established an estate in Grayson County. However, the ex-wife intervened and claimed she was actually common law married to Decedent at the time of death. If her claim to marriage was recognized, the net effect would have been she would receive almost the entire estate.

The brothers hired attorney Michael Young to defend the common law marriage. He conducted discovery and took her deposition. Her story fell under its weight of half truths and misrepresentations. Her story was that the divorce was obtained because she had received advice that it would help her effort to achieve permanent resident immigration status. But she and her former husband continued to live as husband and wife. However, under oath in her deposition she had great difficulty explaining how that did not defraud the US government. And she could point to no evidence that she had subsequently notified the government of the alleged “remarriage” so that it could accurately judge her immigration status. Under cross examination, she even testified that she was “half married, half divorced.”

Attorney Young also obtained income tax records showing that each had filed their last tax returns as “single.” The case ultimately settled with her taking much, much less from the estate than she had demanded. And as part of the settlement, she acknowledged that they had not been married at the time of his death.