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Rosenstiel v. Rosenstiel

Court of Appeals of New York
16 N.Y.2d 64, 262 N.Y.S.2d 86, 209 N.E.2d 709 (1965), 384 U.S. 971 (1966)


Lewis Rosenstiel (husband) (plaintiff) and Susan Rosenstiel (wife) (defendant) were married in New York in 1956. The wife had previously been married to Felix Ernest Kaufman. During that marriage, in 1954, Kaufman traveled across the U.S. border to Juarez, Mexico and signed that city’s Municipal Register, which established him as a resident there under Mexican law. Kaufman then went to a Mexican court where he filed a proof of registration and petition for divorce from the wife on the grounds of incompatibility and ill treatment between them. The entire process took approximately one hour after which Kaufman returned to the United States. The next day, the wife entered an appearance in the Mexican court through an attorney, submitted to the court’s jurisdiction, and admitted Kaufman’s allegations. The court issued a divorce decree that day. Under Mexican law, the court’s jurisdiction to grant a divorce was established by residence or submission to the court. Under New York law, consensual divorce was not permitted. At some point after the Rosenstiels were married in New York, the husband petitioned to annul the marriage on the grounds that the prior divorce decree was invalid, making the wife legally unable to have entered the new marriage. Despite the fact that lower courts in New York had recognized similar Mexican divorce decrees for approximately 25 years, the Special Term of the Supreme Court agreed with the husband and granted an annulment. The Appellate Division reversed. The husband appealed.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Bergan, J.)

Concurrence (Desmond, C.J.)

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