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A marriage procured in consequence of coercion or fraud will be regarded ab initio as if the marriage had not been entered into at all. Marriages procured by coercion or in consequence or fraud may in a court having jurisdiction be annulled. An annulment of a marriage is a determination that the conventional relationship of man and wife had not been established despite and in face of a marriage ceremony.
Following a stormy, ten-year relationship, wife and husband were ceremonially married. When the husband abandoned the wife, she filed a petition to compel his support of her. The husband responded by alleging that the marriage was void, because it was entered into under duress and coercion.
Was the marriage between the parties valid?
The court ruled in favor of the wife, and ordered husband to provide for her support. The court held that it was not credible to believe that a man could be coerced into continuing a ten-year relationship, and forced to consummate a marriage, by a woman. The court found it inconceivable that a man might by duress be compelled to carry on such a relationship. The court noted that the documents produced by the husband, by which the parties purported to assert that the marriage was void, by reason of coercion and distress, were not determinative of the existence or absence of a valid marriage relationship. Moreover, once a valid relationship was begun, the husband's documents were wholly insufficient to dissolve the marriage. The court held that only the supreme court, in exercise of its equity powers, could determine a marriage valid or invalid.