Any posthumous marriage petition is extremely unusual, but when it involves two people of the same gender, it is rarer still. And add a conservative state like Utah into the equation and it’s even more unheard of even in this modern era.
In Utah just a few weeks ago, Bonnie Foerster and Beverly Grossaint were legally married just about three months after Groissaint’s death at the age of 82. The couple had often discussed marriage, a likely move to the “next level” of their relationship after spending five decades (yes, 50 years!) together. Judge Patrick Corum granted the posthumous marriage petition on August 21, 2018, and Bonnie Foerster said she’s “numb with happiness” with the marriage to her soul mate.
Love at First Sight
The two women first met at a friend’s party back in 1968 and knew within minutes of meeting they were meant for each other. They were together as a couple until Beverly left this world due to pneumonia in May 2018. When same-sex marriage became legal in Utah in 2015, they put off the legal union due to health concerns they were both struggling with; those health issues continued for both women until Beverly’s passing in May.
Marriage After Death
Bonnie had no idea that posthumous marriage was even an option until a lawyer friend of hers, Roger Hoole, mentioned that marriage to her longtime love may still be an option, even after Bonnie’s death.
Hoole explained to his dear friend that posthumous marriage rulings are extremely rare, but he thought their situation met the section of Utah’s marriage guidelines that deals with common-law marriage. The law says that while Utah does not have common law marriage, you may petition the court to recognize your relationship as a marriage even though there was no wedding ceremony.
Not Without Stipulations
There are several stipulations to the law in Utah, however, including that the couple must have lived together, treat each other as though they’re married and also present themselves in a way others would believe they are married. The Utah law does allow one partner to file for marriage after the other partner has died as long as the filing is within 12 months of the death.
Courtroom History is Made
On August 21, Bonnie, who is a double amputee and blind, wheeled into Salt Lake City’s 3rd District Court, and Hoole asked Judge Patrick Corum to declare his client legally married to Grossaint in honor of their fifty years together as a couple. Bonnie described her life with Beverly to Judge Corum, and Hoole filed affidavits from people who had known the couple for years to support the idea that they had always wanted to be legally bound and that they had a reputation of being each other’s spouse.
After only 20 minutes, Judge Corum ruled in favor of the marriage petition, stating that during their 50-year union they had maintained one household and joint finances, “mutually contributed to the support of each other, and were treated by family, friends and neighbors as though they were married.”
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