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Wife Wants Annulment, Husband Gets Divorce

Deborah Elkins//August 22, 2011

Wife Wants Annulment, Husband Gets Divorce

Deborah Elkins//August 22, 2011//

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An American citizen wife who met her Indian national husband through the Internet and married him in Henrico and then again five months later in an “elaborate religious wedding” in India is not entitled to an annulment on the ground that the marriage was not consummated; a Henrico Circuit Court says failure to consummate the marriage by sexual intercourse, by itself, is not grounds for annulment.

The marriage allowed husband to adjust his immigration status and he applied for permanent residence. He received his “Employment Authorization Card” and a job offer to work for Symantec in California for $70,000 a year. When wife later withdrew her immigration sponsorship, Symantec filed a petition seeking permission for husband to work in the U.S., which was granted June 11, 2010.

Wife is a resident of Henrico. Husband has never lived in Virginia. He has lived in California since 2008. After the ceremonies in India, on March 13, 2010, wife returned to the U.S. and joined husband in California. She testified he treated her very badly, denying her support, demanding that she limit her conversation and refusing to have sexual intercourse. According to wife, husband said they would only have children by artificial insemination, which was a reversal of his promises before marriage. According to husband, he wanted to marry wife based on shared values. He testified he tried numerous times to become intimate but wife refused. After only seven days together, wife left California on March 20, 2010 and the parties have been separated since then. On March 30, 2010, wife filed her complaint. Husband counterclaimed for divorce.

To win an annulment, wife must prove a false representation of a material fact, made intentionally and knowingly, with intent to mislead, on which she relied and by which she was damaged.

The evidence is in conflict. Wife asserts she was deceived by husband who wanted to obtain permanent resident status through marriage. However, this was not supported by other credible evidence and some of wife’s testimony was not credible. There was no reason for husband to lease a new apartment and seek wife’s approval of it, if his intent was to marry only for immigration reasons. Also, husband’s family gave wife expensive presents, and husband’s family spent nearly $150,000 on the wedding. This is inconsistent with fraud. As to husband’s immigration status, it was fairly easy for husband to obtain his employer’s sponsorship.

On the whole, the evidence did not establish any fraudulent purpose in the marriage. It appears the parties were not compatible and the marriage was formed without adequate preparation.

The divorce will be granted on the one-year separate ground.

Chhibber v. Nangia (Hammond) No. CL 10-943, June 30, 2011; Henrico Cir.Ct.; Harris Leiner, Michael HuYoung for the parties. VLW 011-8-147, 2 pp.

VLW 011-8-147

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