Thursday, December 24, 2015
C.A. Rejects Minister’s Plea for Annulment, Not Divorce
By a MetNews Staff Writer
The Sixth District Court of Appeal has rejected a Presbyterian minister’s contention that the trial court should have granted his post-divorce request for an annulment because he was fraudulently induced to wed through his wife-to-be’s false assurance that she was a devout Christian.
Appellant Ting Wang argued he should be spared the ignominy of divorce, which his church regards as a sin, and that annulment is appropriate in light of the trickery of his former wife, Rebecca Kim.
Over his opposition, a judgment was entered Feb. 12, 2013, dissolving his nine-year marriage to Kim. She subsequently stipulated that the judgment be vacated, with the understanding that it would be reinstated if Wang failed to obtain the annulment he sought.
In pursuing the annulment, he said in a declaration, that at, or near in time to, a Jan. 28, 2013 hearing, he “broached the issue” of her “Christian commitment” and she advised that it should have been obvious to him that she was a “benchwarmer Christian,” if a Christian at all.
Santa Clara Superior Court Judge Julie A. Emede determined at a March 26, 2014 proceeding that granting an annulment would be contrary to law, and the judgment of dissolution was re-entered, effective Feb. 12, 2013.
“Historically,” Justice Adrienne M. Grover wrote, agreeing with Emede, “annulments based on fraud have been granted only in cases where the fraud related in some way to the sexual, procreative, or child-rearing aspects of marriage.”
Wang pointed to the 1969 opinion in Lamberti v. Lamberti, 272 Cal.App.2d 482. There, the parties met while Guiseppe Lamberti was visiting from Italy; they were wed in a civil ceremony, pursuant to his promise of a wedding in a Catholic church in three weeks; by marrying, he gained entitlement to remain in the United States; right after the ceremony, his attitude toward the bride became icy; they were not wed in a church and the marriage was not consummated.
The court in that case said:
“We are persuaded that the rule is that where one prospective spouse, in order to induce the other to enter into a civil marriage, makes a promise of a subsequent religious ceremony without intending to keep it, an annulment will be granted, at least where as in the present case there was no consummation by cohabitation.”
Case Is Inapposite
Grover commented, in an opinion that was not certified for publication:
“The facts in Lamberti do not support Wang’s broad argument that an annulment may be based on a misrepresentation in religious matters….In our view, Lamberti was not decided based on a misrepresentation regarding religious conviction but rather based on the defendant misrepresenting his love and affection for the plaintiff so that he could obtain legal status in the United States—a misrepresentation that was apparent from his transformed demeanor immediately following the civil ceremony including his overt refusal to solemnize the marriage.”
The jurist went on to say:
“When Wang ultimately sought an annulment, it was not because Kim’s religious convictions had impeded their marriage. Rather, he sought an annulment in lieu of the dissolution sought by Kim because his religion apparently will not accept the ministry services of a divorced pastor. In light of the parties’ consummated eight-year marriage in which the couple had assumed the rights and duties of the marriage in spite of Kim’s lack of spiritual devotion, Wang has failed to show that the strength or weakness of Kim’s religious conviction frustrated the essence of the marriage.”
The case is Marriage of Kim and Wang, H041056.
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