Duhaime's Law Dictionary

Predatory Marriage Definition:

A spousal relationship between a much younger caregiver and a rich, older or sickly person, for the covert and primary purpose not of love, but an interest in the estate of that other person.

Related Terms: Marriage, Marriage of Convenience

Also known as a gold-digger marriage.

Whaley and Arkin wrote, in their 2012 article:

"Predatory marriage .. describes the scheme of the unscrupulous opportunist who, purely for financial gain, marries a person with limited mental capacity."

Whaley, in a previous publication, defined a predatory marriage as follows:

"... predatory marriages, where unscrupulous individuals prey upon older adults with diminished reasoning ability for their own financial profit."1

In her 2005 article on predatory marriages, Wendy Griesdorf wrote:

"In the past decade across Canada however, there have been four reported cases of predatory marriages relating to the elderly. These are Hart v. Cooper, Barrett Estate v. Dexter, Banton v. Banton, and (Feng v.) Sung Estate.

"In these cases, there has been a distinct progression in the legal analysis and understanding of marriage culminating in Banton and Sung formulating almost a restatement of the law in the area of capacity to marry. However, it is only in Sung where the court binds the connection between capacity and coercion and refuses to disregard the malevolent goals of the caregiver in determining the validity of the marriage.

"In all of these cases, the elder is a man and the female caregiver is significantly younger - almost a fifty year age difference in Banton. The elder is either dying of cancer or suffering from dementia or Alzheimer's. The relationship emerges from a previously non-romantic care-giving capacity (in Hart there is no discussion of how the couple met but in Barrett and Sung the caregiver began as a live-in helper and in Banton the caregiver first met the elder in the retirement home's dining facility). In these cases, adult children from a previous marriage are actively involved in their father's life and not by any measure absentee (in Banton the elder had mistaken delusions that his children were not supportive of him) but nonetheless are not told of the marriage until after it occurs. In all of the cases, the courts find evidence of manipulation, scheming, and coercion by the caregiver (in Hart the police become involved when the elder accuses the caregiver of kidnapping him)."


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