Alterman, J.d.c., Temporarily Assigned.
Chester W. Thompson entered into four connubial relationships in his lifetime. The first was legally sanctioned. The second and fourth were merely ceremoniously performed. The third was entirely meretricious. These unions now give rise to various claims against the estate of Chester Thompson and generate a constitutional challenge to N.J.S.A. 3A:4-7.
The facts are not in dispute and are chronologically recited:
(a) On December 24, 1954 decedent married Christine Palmetier. Two children, Shirley and Nancy Ann, were born of this marriage. Decedent and Christine Palmetier Thompson were never divorced.
(b) On December 1, 1967 decedent entered into a ceremonial marriage with G.N. One child, M.N., was born of this union.
(c) On January 3, 1971 C.W. was born of a union between decedent and S.W. There was no ceremonial marriage.
(d) On August 21, 1971 decedent entered into a ceremonial marriage with J.B. No children were born of this alliance.
(e) All of the above-named persons survive decedent, who died intestate on April 18, 1972. His estate consists solely of personal property.
N.J.S.A. 3A:4-2 provides:
One-third of the personal property shall be distributed to the intestate's husband or widow, as the case may be, and the residue in equal portions among the intestate's children and such persons as legally represent any child who may have died.
Decedent's widow is Christine Palmetier Thompson. This marriage was not terminated during decedent's life. Because it subsisted until decedent's death, his subsequent ceremonial marriages were void ab initio. Dacunzo v. Edgye , 19 N.J. 443 (1955); Thompson v. Monteiro , 58 N.J. Super. 302 (Ch. Div. 1959). It is not pretended that decedent's relationship with S.W. ever achieved the dignity of a ...