Rickards v. Rickards
53 Del. 134, 166 A.2d 425 (1960)

  • Mr. Rickards and Mrs. Rickards were married. However, Mr. Rickards was unable to ‘take care of business’ (aka he was impotent).
  • Mrs. Rickards filed for an annulment.
    • Under Delaware State law, (12 Del.C. §1551), “incurable physical impotency, or incapacity for copulation” was grounds for an annulment.
  • The Trial Court granted the annulment. Mr. Rickards appealed.
    • Mr. Rickards argued that his impotency was psychological in nature, not physical, which didn’t meet the definition.
    • Also, Mr. Rickards argued that his wife had not established that his problem was “incurable.”
  • The Delaware Supreme Court affirmed the annulment.
    • The Delaware Supreme Court found that physical or psychological impotency were functionally the same, so there should be no difference in the law.
    • The Court found that a psychologist testified that Mr. Rickards was ‘probably incurable’, and that was good enough.
      • It would be unfair to make Mrs. Rickards wait around for the possibility of a miracle cure.
  • Under the old Roman law (adopted by the English Courts), the doctrine of triennial cohabitation, a man has 3 years to prove he is capable. After that, the burden of proof shifts to the man to prove that he is not impotent.