Utah Supreme Court says woman can marry dead man

The Utah Supreme Court has ruled in favor of a woman to be posthumously wed to her late husband.

The Tuesday ruling allows Janetta Gardiner to marry Kenneth Vanderwerff, who was 78 when he died of cancer, according to the Deseret News. Gardiner had filed for marriage shortly before he died.

Vanderwerff’s relatives filed a formal intervention to the initial petition, and it was dismissed. The court ruled that they did not have legal standing to intervene.

Gardiner, now in her early 80s, then appealed to the Supreme Court, where her marriage was reinstated. Her lawyer, Robert Fuller, said she wished to be married to him for religious reasons.

“It’s not like anybody’s hit a home run and big dollars are changing hands now,” he said. “It’s more of how society should function and who should be able to challenge and attack marriages.”

Fuller said Gardiner and Vanderwerff coupled when his first wife died in 2007 and that they lived in a mobile home together, where they had a small, unofficial marriage ceremony.

Gardiner will serve as the administrator for Vanderwerff’s estate.

Contact Kristen DeSilva at kdesilva@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3895. Find her on Twitter: @kristendesilva

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