We are talking about a case out of New Jersey, where marriage laws are a little different from Minnesota's. Both states require a couple to obtain a license, to have the marriage solemnized by an authorized officiant and to have that solemnization witnessed by two people 18-years-old or older. In New Jersey, though, the waiting period is just 72 hours or 3 days; in Minnesota, couples must wait five days before they can make the marriage official.
Everything went by the book when Michael and Debra Mandelbaum were married in 1993. The couple sent out invitations; the ceremony took place in a rabbi's office; Debra wore a bridal gown. For the next 20 years, the two lived as husband and wife, filing joint tax returns, purchasing property together, holding themselves out to friends and the community as "The Mandelbaums." When Debra filed for divorce, though, Michael's response surprised her.
Michael maintains that they were never really married. The license, he says, was not valid until 16 days after their wedding. They did not go through another ceremony with an authorized officiant while the license was valid -- six months for the application, 30 days for the license itself -- so they were not and are not legally married.
The case is unusual, certainly, but what makes it especially newsworthy is that Michael is a multi-millionnaire. In 2012, he reportedly earned more than $6.6 million.
Debra's attorneys claim that Michael's camp is questioning the validity of the marriage only to avoid a fair property settlement. New Jersey, like Minnesota, is an equitable distribution state: The court looks for a fair, not an equal division of marital assets and liabilities.
The problem, of course, is that Michael says none of the assets were "marital." Now what?
Source: Wall Street Journal, "Son of Minnesota Vikings Part-Owner Says He Wasn't Legally Married to His Wife," Yoni Bashan and Heather Haddon, Sept. 18, 2014