Surrogate Diana Johnson

A status hearing was conducted, incident to the probate of decedent’s estate, regarding if decedent and objectant Avrumson were married. The court noted the marriage was allegedly solemnized before Rabbi Dembitzer in 1982 at the rabbi’s home, but without a marriage license. It stated the lack of a license did not render the marriage performed by one authorized to solemnize marriages void. Petitioner failed to allege the signatures of decedent and objectant were forgeries and did not present any proof they did not sign the marriage certificate that was entered into evidence. The court found petitioner failed to overcome a strong presumption favoring the validity of marriages. Dembitzer’s deposition testimony revealed that he recognized his handwriting on the certificate and Ketubah, or prenuptial agreement, and his signature on the bottom of the documents, and that he would never perform a wedding where there was no Ketubah, nor put his signature if it was not done according to Jewish law. Therefore, the court concluded that decedent and objectant were married, ruling objectant’s status was that of decedent’s surviving spouse.