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Nguyen v. Lai.

2022 COA 141. No. 21CA0418. Uniform Dissolution of Marriage Act—Declaration of Invalidity—Property Disposition.

December 8, 2022

Husband filed a petition to declare his marriage to wife invalid. He alleged that when they were married, wife was legally married to another person and fraudulently represented to him that her prior marriage had ended. The district court found that the marriage was prohibited by law because wife was married to another person when she married husband and husband entered into the marriage in reliance on wife’s misrepresentations. The court entered a decree invalidating the marriage. It also determined that (1) wife wasn’t eligible for putative spouse status and (2) it had no jurisdiction over the parties’ jointly owned property.

On appeal, wife argued that the district court erred by declaring her marriage to husband invalid and concluding that it lacked jurisdiction to divide the parties’ jointly owned property. The plain language of CRS § 14-10-111(6) does not condition the court’s authority to address a spouses’ property on a determination that one party is a putative spouse. Here, the district court concluded, without explanation, that the invalidity of the parties’ marriage deprived it of jurisdiction over the parties’ jointly owned property. Therefore, the district court erred, and because of this error, the court hasn’t issued a final judgment fully resolving the parties’ property division. Accordingly, this appeal presents a nonfinal order over which the court of appeals lacks jurisdiction.

The district court’s conclusion that it lacked jurisdiction over the parties’ property division was reversed. The appeal was dismissed in part without prejudice as to wife’s appeal concerning the decree of invalidity of marriage for lack of a final order, and the case was remanded for further proceedings.

Official Colorado Court of Appeals proceedings can be found at the Colorado Court of Appeals website.

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