The decedent’s surviving spouse, Aquije, filed a petition for letters of administration with the Nassau County Surrogate’s Court. The decedent’s children from a previous marriage filed objections alleging that their father’s first marriage in 1969 in Chile was never dissolved, hence, the marriage to Aquije was not valid.
The court stated that where there are two ceremonial marriages, there is a strong presumption that the subsequent marriage is valid. Those contesting the validity of the subsequent marriage bear the burden of proving its invalidity.
A hearing was held by the court where the parties testified and documents were received into evidence including a marriage certificate for the 1969 marriage, the decedent’s death certificate listing Aquije as surviving spouse and a New York marriage certificate for the 1997 marriage of the decedent to Aquije. The court observed that the decedent was married four times and that Aquije and the decedent lived together as husband and wife for 14 years until his death in 2011.
The court held that the children did not come forward with proof to overcome the strong presumption in favor of the validity of the marriage to Aquije, thus, their objections were stricken and letters of administration were granted to the surviving spouse.
Estate of Perez, 2012-371736 (Surrogate’s Court, Nassau County, March 28, 2014)