The Colorado Court of Appeals issued its opinion in In re the Marriage of Joel and Roohi on August 2, 2012.
Invalidity of Marriage—Fraud—Property—Maintenance.
Wife appealed the judgment declaring her marriage to husband invalid. She also appealed, and husband cross-appealed, the court’s permanent orders regarding marital property and maintenance. The judgment of invalidity was affirmed and the permanent orders were affirmed in part, reversed in part, and vacated in part.
Following an invalidity hearing, the court found that the evidence established that wife entered into the marriage to obtain legal residency in the United States and be closer to her sister, and not, as she had claimed, because she loved her husband. The court declared the marriage invalid and entered permanent orders.
On appeal, wife contended that the district court erred by declaring the marriage invalid. There was sufficient evidence in the record to support the court’s finding that wife’s fraudulent misrepresentations to husband went to the essence of the marriage. Therefore, the court did not abuse its discretion in declaring the marriage invalid.
Wife also contended that the district court erred when it divided the marital property as of the date of the decree of invalidity and not as of the date of the later permanent orders. In his cross-appeal, husband contended that the court erred by awarding wife part of the increase in the value of his retirement account (to which he was the sole contributor), part of the value of a vehicle (which he claimed to have purchased with his own funds), and maintenance. The relevant provisions of the Uniform Dissolution of Marriage Act (UDMA) dictate that wife’s fraud precludes an award of any property attributable to husband’s contributions or an award of maintenance. The most the court may award to the party who engaged in fraud is the proportion of property or increase in value attributable to the financial contribution of that party. In this case, husband was the sole contributor to his 401(k) account, and any increase in value should be awarded entirely to him. There was conflicting testimony regarding the vehicle purchased by husband, so the order regarding this asset was reversed and the case was remanded for further proceedings as to that asset. Finally, wife is not entitled to an award of maintenance as the perpetrator of a fraud, so that order was reversed.
Summary and full case available here.