This is an action brought by Hilda Weeast and Joan Knepp as plaintiffs against J. Arnold Weeast, administrator of the estate of John W. Weeast, deceased, and against Marion Weeast, mother of the said J. Arnold Weeast. Defendants move for summary judgment and the matter is before the court on that motion.
By the first count of the complaint, it is alleged that plaintiff Joan Knepp is the daughter of John W. Weeast, and as such "is entitled to one-third of the personal property and one-half of the residue of the real estate of the said John W. Weeast subject to the dower rights of one Marion Weeast"; that on August 24, 1960 Arnold Weeast was appointed administrator of the estate of John W. Weeast, deceased, by the Surrogate of Burlington County, and since that time has refused and still refuses to account "for the personal and real property in said estate" and refuses to distribute to Joan Knepp her share in said estate. Plaintiffs demand judgment under this count determining Joan Knepp's right in said estate, ordering said J. Arnold Weeast, as administrator, to account, and ordering said J. Arnold Weeast, as administrator, to distribute to Joan Knepp her share of the estate.
By the second count plaintiffs allege that said decedent during his lifetime conveyed a "certain property" (I assume, a parcel of real estate) in Bordentown Township to John W. Weeast and Hilda Weeast. They further allege that "a certain property" (again I assume they mean a parcel of real estate) in Surf City, Ocean County, New Jersey, was conveyed to John W. Weeast and Hilda Weeast. They
further allege that "the furniture and other household goods in the house located on the premises in Surf City" belong to the plaintiff Hilda Weeast. They further allege the death intestate of John W. Weeast, "leaving among his survivors" the said Hilda Weeast and Joan Knepp. By this count plaintiffs demand judgment "adjudicating their respective rights in the premises set forth in the second count of the complaint."
The facts appearing from the pleadings and affidavits are substantially undisputed.
John W. Weeast was lawfully married to Marion Weeast on July 23, 1924. One son, J. Arnold Weeast, was born of this marriage on May 24, 1927.
On or about January 15, 1933 John W. Weeast deserted his wife and child, and very shortly thereafter he commenced cohabitation with the plaintiff named in this action as Hilda Weeast. Of this union was born, on November 5, 1933, a daughter who was given the name of Joan Dolores Weeast, who is now known as Joan Knepp.
The marriage between John W. Weeast and Marion Weeast was never dissolved. True, it is represented that about the year 1945 John and Hilda attempted to formalize their arrangement by obtaining Mexican "mail order" divorces from their respective spouses, and thereafter going through a ceremony of marriage on June 30, 1945 in Bel Air, Maryland. There is no proof in the pleadings and affidavits of the obtaining of these Mexican divorces, but whether they were or were not obtained is immaterial because such divorces, if obtained, were absolutely null and void. Tonti v. Chadwick , 1 N.J. 531 (1949).
John and Hilda continued to cohabit until John's death intestate on August 12, 1960. Following his death, as previously stated, letters of administration on his estate were granted by the surrogate to his son, J. Arnold Weeast.
The defendants now move "for an order dismissing the action because the complaint fails to state claim against the defendants upon which relief may be granted; or, in the alternative for a summary judgment for defendants
* * * on the ground that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the defendants * * * are entitled ...