Singh v. Singh
213 Conn. 637, 569 A.2d 1112 (1990)

  • David and Seoranie were married in Connecticut. They were happily married for a while until they learned that Seoranie’s mother was David’s estranged sister, making them uncle and niece as well as husband and wife.
  • The pair filed for an annulment on the grounds that the marriage was void.
    • Under Connecticut State law, uncles and nieces were not eligible to marry.
  • A few years later, they found out that Seoranie’s mother was in fact only David’s half-sister.
    • Connecticut State law (§46b-21, and §53a-191) did not explicitly say that uncles cannot marry half-nieces.
  • The pair filed to have the annulment reversed. They also got remarried in California, which allowed uncles and half-nieces to marry.
    • See People v. Baker (442 P.2d 675 (1968)), which found that uncle half-niece relationships were not a crime.
    • Seoranie had some visa issues, and was likely to get deported if their marriage was not valid.
  • The Trial Court declined to reverse the annulment. David and Seoranie appealed.
    • The Trial Court found that under the common-law, prohibited degrees of relationship by blood included persons of half-blood as well as whole blood.
  • The Connecticut Supreme Court affirmed.
    • The Connecticut Supreme Court noted that §46b-21 did not explicitly mention half-blood relatives.
    • However, the Court found that Connecticut incest laws date back to 1702 and were based on British ecclesiastical laws. Those laws treated whole blood and half-blood relatives equally.
      • See Butler v. Gastrill (25 Eng.Rep. 110 (1722)).
      • The Court noted that there has been no change in the Connecticut law since 1702.
    • The Court found that §46b-21 should be read to encompass half-blood relatives, because it is all part of the same statutory scheme.
      • The couple did share some of the same blood, afterall.
  • Even though their marriage was valid in California, it did not transfer to Connecticut because Connecticut found that it was against strong public policy.