Many individuals are happy to be married once. Many individuals are happy when that first marriage ends and would never think of marrying again. However, one woman, in the Bronx, was so enamored with the idea of being married that she didn’t stop with one marriage, or even two. She was married ten times, and at one time was married to eight men at the same time.
In fact, Liana Barrientos was not, it would seem, marrying for love. Rather, she was part of a larger scheme to assist men in entering this country while avoiding ICE detection. She has been charged with filing a false instrument, her application for a marriage license and the signed marriage license itself. Additionally, she is being investigated by homeland security for her actions.
While this situation is not very common and has therefore grabbed the attention of the media, there are situations where an individual may have been previously married and abandoned their first spouse only to start a new life with a new “spouse”. If both parties are happy it would seem that this situation should not be a problem. However, where a spouse disappears and “re-marries” both the old spouse and new spouse may suffer.
In the State of New York property acquired during a marriage, with limited exceptions, will be considered joint property. If a prior spouse is abandoned, all of their acquired wealth is subject to equitable distribution should a prior spouse re-enter that spouse’s life. This prevents a spouse from pursuing their own happiness as they are constantly in danger of having their property “equitably distributed” between themselves and a spouse who has been absent and holding themselves out as married to another person.
With respect to a second, or third or fourth, spouse, they will not be entitled to any equitable distribution of their “spouse’s” assets. As there is no valid marriage, there would be no equitable distribution and therefore, if the parties were to divorce, the “new spouse” would be prevented from obtaining a share of the martial assets, as there would not, in fact, be any marital assets.
At Bryan L. Salamone & Associates, P.C., we have experience dealing with these issues of fraudulent marriages and protecting victim spouses. Contact us immediately if you feel you may be a victim of such a scheme. We will fight to protect your rights with more skill and experience than any other firm.