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La. Civ. Code Ann. art. 117 provides that a null marriage nevertheless produces civil effects if it has been contracted in good faith. Article 118 declares that if only one of the parties acted in good faith, the marriage produces its civil effects only in his or her favor. The good faith referred to means an honest and reasonable belief that the marriage was a valid one at the time of its confection. Good faith is presumed, and the burden of proving the contrary rests on the party who alleges it. Furthermore, if there is any doubt on the issue, it is to be resolved in favor of good faith. The issue of good faith in contracting a marriage is a question of fact and must be determined by the trial court from the facts and circumstances in each individual case.
In response to the plaintiff Omega Godwin Eddy’s petition for separation and rule for child custody and support, the defendant husband Harold Eddy claimed that the marriage was invalid. He admitted the marriage and the birth of two children, but alleged that the plaintiff was previously married, not yet divorced when she married him thereby making their marriage a nullity and the children illegitimate. Plaintiff pleaded estoppel since the defendant had admitted the marriage. Alternatively, she was a putative wife because she married in good faith. Defendant amended his answer to show that he discovered these facts after filing his answer, making his admissions erroneous. Defendant claimed that he was entitled to have the marriage declared a nullity, and alimony and child support should be recalled. The defendant died, and the administratrix of his succession was substituted. The trial court found that both parties acted in good faith in consummating the marriage. Thus, this made the plaintiff a putative wife and rendered the children legitimate. The defendant administratrix appealed.
Did the trial court err in declaring plaintiff the putative wife and in confirming the legitimacy of the children born of their union?
The court affirmed the decision. In so concluding, the court determined whether the trial court erred in finding that the plaintiff acted in good faith. The court pointed out that the issue of good faith was a question of fact and must be determined by the trial court from the facts and circumstances in each individual case. Since the court found that there was no contradictory evidence on record, and that it was in accordance with the law and jurisprudence, the court affirmed the decision.