Searching over 5,500,000 cases.

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Stovall v. Preston

Court of Appeals of Arkansas, Division IV

January 31, 2018



          Stayton & Associates, P.C., by: Calvin Beasley; and Eugene B. Hale, for appellant.

          Bowman & Lewis, PLLC, by: Kyle Mayton, for appellee.

          DAVID M. GLOVER, Judge

         Daniel Stovall appeals from the May 19, 2017 order denying his petition to quash Rudy Preston's motion to terminate guardianship. For his sole point of appeal, he contends: "The probate court erred and acted contrary to law and public policy when it extended comity in a probate proceeding to a foreign marriage celebrated in Louisiana where the evidence was undisputed that the parties did not actually reside in Louisiana, at the time they celebrated the marriage, and where there was no evidence that the parties consummated the marriage in Louisiana, following the marriage ceremony, as required for extending comity to foreign marriages, under Ark. Code Ann. § 9-11-107(a)." We affirm.

         By order entered on June 24, 2016, the trial court appointed Daniel Stovall ("Daniel") as guardian over his mother, 83-year-old Faye Stovall Preston ("Faye"), who had purportedly been married to Rudy Preston ("Rudy") for twenty-seven years. It is undisputed that Rudy executed a waiver of notice and entry of appearance for any hearings regarding Faye's guardianship. It is also undisputed he did not appeal the June 24, 2016 order appointing Daniel as guardian of the person and the estate of Faye. However, Rudy subsequently filed a motion to terminate guardianship, or alternatively to vacate and modify the order appointing a guardian and a motion for accounting, which he amended on December 22, 2016. Rudy pled the waiver was obtained through fraud, and he should have had the opportunity to address the court about the best interests of his wife. He further alleged Daniel had not used the guardianship to promote and protect Faye and her property, and Rudy sought an inventory and an independent medical evaluation.

         On March 17, 2017, Daniel filed a petition to quash Rudy's motion to terminate the guardianship. In his petition, he alleged "further investigation" had revealed that, at best, the legal status of Faye's and Rudy's marriage was questionable, and it was likely they had never been legally married. Daniel relied upon Arkansas Code Annotated section 9-11-107 and 9-11-201 et seq. and contended the couple's "1994 Louisiana marriage on a boat by a captain, " without ever having resided in Louisiana, rendered it invalid under section 9-11-107. Rudy responded and attached a Louisiana marriage license. It recited the marriage occurred in 1994 and the license was filed in 1995. By order filed on May 19, 2017, the trial court denied the motion to quash and found the Louisiana marriage valid under the laws of Arkansas. This appeal followed.

          The statute Daniel relies upon is Arkansas Code Annotated section 9-11-107 (Repl. 2015):

(a) All marriages contracted outside this state that would be valid by the laws of the state or country in which the marriages were consummated and in which the parties then actually resided shall be valid in all the courts in this state.
(b) This section shall not apply to a marriage between persons of the same sex.[1]

(Emphasis added.) The italicized portion of the statute has given us pause because Rudy and Faye never resided in Louisiana. The statutory language, however, runs counter to at least two Arkansas Supreme Court cases.

         First, in State v. Graves, 228 Ark. 378, 307 S.W.2d 545 (1957), our supreme court was faced with a situation in which it had to decide whether a Mississippi marriage between two underage Arkansas residents was valid in Arkansas. Mississippi allowed such marriages, but Arkansas did not. The court concluded the marriage was not void in Arkansas. Citing the Restatement on Conflict of Laws, the court recognized the general rule is that a marriage valid where it is celebrated is recognized as being valid everywhere. It noted four exceptions to the general rule: 1) polygamous marriage, 2) incestuous marriage, 3) marriage between persons of different races, and 4) marriage of a domiciliary which the statute at the domicile makes void even though celebrated in another state. The court found none of the four exceptions applied to the situation at hand. The court quoted the following passage from 35 Am. Jur. 289:

Indeed, the view has been taken that if a statute, silent as to marriage outside the state, prohibits classes of persons from marrying generally or from intermarrying, or declares void all marriages not celebrated according to prescribed forms, it has no effect upon marriages, even of domiciled inhabitants, entered into or out of the state.

228 Ark. at 382, 307 S.W.2d at 547. In Graves, the supreme court further quoted from Feigenbaum v. Feigenbaum, 210 Ark. 186, 194 S.W.2d 1012: "Upon one branch of the case there is no difference of opinion, and that is, that wherever the question of the validity of a marriage may arise, the question must be determined in accordance with the laws of the state where the marriage was ...

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.