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A court shall enter a decree declaring a marriage invalid if one party entered into the marriage in reliance on a fraudulent act or representation of the other party when the act or representation goes to the essence of the marriage. Colo. Rev. Stat. § 14-10-111(1)(d) (2009).
The parties' thirty-year marriage ended in dissolution in 1999. They remarried in 2004, and in 2007, husband filed for dissolution. Wife cross-petitioned to declare the second marriage invalid pursuant to section 14-10-111(1)(d), C.R.S. 2009, asserting that she agreed to marry him based upon his representation that he had a terminal illness. A hearing was held, after which the trial court dismissed the petition for dissolution and declared the marriage invalid. Permanent orders regarding property, maintenance, and attorney fees were then entered pursuant to stipulation. Thereafter, husband appealed the order invalidating the marriage, and wife moved to dismiss his appeal as untimely.
Did the trial court abuse its discretion in invalidating the parties' marriage?
The instant court concluded that the trial court did not abuse its discretion in invalidating the parties' marriage. The wife testified that in 2003, before the parties remarried, the husband told her that he had a serious illness and that he would die within a few years. Although the medical records husband brought to his meeting with her indicated that his disease had not progressed to a terminal form, the wife testified that she was not familiar with the disease and believed what the husband told her about his prognosis. She further testified, as did other witnesses, that she agreed to remarry because the husband was dying and she did not want him to die alone. Although the evidence sharply conflicted and the trial court could have found, as the husband suggested, that he made only an innocent misrepresentation, the trial court's findings could not be disturbed because there was some evidence in the record to support them. There was ample evidence that the wife decided to remarry the husband only because she believed his death was imminent. The record supported the finding that the husband's misrepresentation regarding his prognosis went to the essence of their remarriage.