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Married at first sight

In its second series on TV, “Married at First Sight” shows couples, matched by experts, getting married on their very first meeting – as complete strangers! But what happens if it all goes very seriously wrong and one of them dies soon after the marriage?

This is a very entertaining social experiment that shows the wedding, followed by a honeymoon and then four weeks of living together as husband and wife. Then they must decide whether to stay together or split up. So far – all the couples (in the UK version) have split up!

But what happens if one of the spouses dies while they are still married?

Unless it’s a void marriage (e.g. forbidden by law and invalid from the beginning) or a voidable marriage (e.g. one which is not consummated), they would generally have to wait for one year to get divorced. A voidable marriage can be annulled sooner than that, but remains a valid marriage until it has been formally annulled by one of the parties to the marriage. If one of them dies before that, it can’t be annulled and the survivor will be their widow/widower.

If a husband or wife dies without a valid will (intestate) and without children, their entire estate will pass to the survivor. Even if they had a will before the marriage, it will have been revoked by the marriage, leaving them intestate.

Marrying at first sight may have some unwelcome legal consequences.

(This is the law in England and Wales).