My marriage wasn’t legal. What happens to my house?


Q. I’m a veteran and bought my residence by way of a VA mortgage. I was normally the only one particular on the financial loan. My spouse and I have been with each other as spouse and spouse on the deed. When she died a few many years ago, I recorded a new deed just with my individual title. Around a year in the past, I remarried so I recorded with my county file in office environment a new deed that had both equally me and my new spouse on it. Then she died, and I recently I found out that my first wife experienced a authorized partner the full time she was married to me in China. She generally lied when we received married but I married in great religion. Can my lifeless wife’s legal partner in China claim half of my dwelling mainly because his spouse was the owner with me?

— Puzzled

A. We’re sorry for the reduction of your wives — and that you’re remaining with this complicated and special situation.

Here’s what you need to have to consider.

From a spouse and children regulation viewpoint, the disposition of authentic property obtained through your relationship will seriously occur down to no matter whether your relationship to your 1st wife was really legitimate or if it was void from inception, explained Jeralyn Lawrence, a family legislation legal professional with Lawrence Regulation in Watchung.

If your marriage was not legitimate, an annulment may perhaps be essential to formally understand the non-existence of any legal union among you and your initial spouse and dispel any equitable distribution claim, if any exists, Lawrence said.

She reported New Jersey recognizes two kinds of annulments — individuals that are void “ab initio,” this means the marriage was void from its inception, and those people that qualify for a voidable annulment.

“In New Jersey, a relationship can be void for quite a few factors, which includes if one of the parties now has a further legal partner at the time of the subsequent relationship and the other social gathering does not know about that present marriage, recognized as polygamy,” Lawrence explained.” “If your first spouse was married to an individual in China prior to and for the duration of her relationship to you, and you were being unaware of her marriage to this particular person when you and her married, it may possibly be achievable for you to have the relationship annulled as void ab initio, even if she has because handed away.”

Other examples of void or voidable marriages contain marriages concerning blood family members or marriages where a single of the spouses was under the age of consent at the time of the marriage, Lawrence mentioned.

Even if a relationship can be annulled void ab initio, it is sensible to have a courtroom lawfully realize the annulment so that you are not confronted with any long run concerns, she reported.

“Notably, you will have the stress to show that your 1st late spouse was previously married at the time of your marriage to her in purchase to be granted the annulment,” she said. “If the annulment is granted, your very first late wife would have no equitable interest in your residence, from a household regulation point of view, mainly because the relationship would have never existed.”

Her other source of entitlement might be by an possession desire by virtue of her title remaining on the deed, Lawrence explained.

“Since it is unclear as to how you and your initially spouse took title to the marital home, it may be beneficial to also assessment this problem with a true estate expert to figure out what the ideal of survivorship could have been, if any, at the time of her passing,” she said.

Take into account speaking to an professional loved ones law lawyer who can appear further into the details of your scenario.

Email your issues to [email protected].

Karin Selling price Mueller writes the Bamboozled column for NJ Progress Media and is the founder of Follow NJMoneyHelp on Twitter @NJMoneyHelp. Locate NJMoneyHelp on Fb. Sign up for’s weekly e-publication.


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