My 87-year-old father married a younger woman (71) who told him she was previously married twice, but I found she has been married nine times prior. What do I do?

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My elderly father, who was in early dementia when he met this gal at his retirement apartment, proposed to her within two months of meeting. He then introduced her to our family and everyone had red flags! We all tried to talk to him, he didn't listen and they ended up getting married within six months of meeting. At first he seemed happy, now, as his dementia has progressed he has turned very quiet and watches TV or movies most days, which is fine. This past summer as I was thinking about why she never talked about her family or past, I got very curious and started looking at ancestry.com and low and behold, NINE other marriage surfaced!!! She had told my father and I she had been married twice before (divorced twice), which I am now thinking is a copy of how many times my father has been married, which is twice, though both my mother and his second wife have passed. She has become more and more short with me when I call to talk to my father as well as stopped being home when I come to pick him up for our bi-weekly lunch dates. I know my father wouldn't remember if I told him or even showed him all the marriages, but with her blocking me from seeing my dad, I am not sure I have a choice but to confront her about her deception. Thoughts?

Answers 1 to 10 of 14
I know you said you father has become more quiet and watches more TV - do you think this is a progression of his dementia or do you suspect the wife of some sort of mistreatment?

Overall, does your father seem satisfied with his relationship and marriage?  Just curious- what are their respective ages?

And of course, the obvious question - does your father have assets that could be at risk from her?
Never mind the age question- lol! Don't know how I missed that.
Top Answer
Since you know how to research prior marriages, I think I'd research the previous husbands and find out if they're still living, or who initiated the divorces. If they're dead, I'd begin to think Black Widow.

Also, were these marriages in the same state?

If a BW potential exists, I'd take the research to the local police station and ask if they can help. They can check for a criminal record, investigation into someone's death (although with older people there isn't always an autopsy).

Eleven marriages, nine of them previously, cutting off your access to your father...this raises a lot of red flags for me.

Has your father created end of life documents? If so, you might want to give his attorney a heads up on his mental status just in case his "wife" wants to change them. But, of course, a BW can use her own preferred attorney.

Lastly, there is the possibility of applying for conservatorship and guardianship if you think she's likely to take what she can and run, or make poor medical decisions on his behalf.
My father seems OK with the marriage but it's hard to know since he isn't communicating much. He was a silent type to begin with and wouldn't complain even if he was miserable. I have found out that she is now leaving him alone to go run errands or go play cards with a group of ladies at the retirement apartments where they live. It is a security building, though no door man and would be easy for him to just walk out without anyone seeing, though thankfully he is not a wanderer.

As his DPOA for medical and financial. I have been able to lock down all his assets except one joint checking account that he added her to when they first married (she did not add him to any of her accounts). No beneficiaries can be changed, all companies and banks are aware of this and have the documentation on file.

As far as I can tell all but two former husbands are still alive, two passed in the last couple of years so she is cleared from being a BW. 80% of the divorces were initiated by the husbands. I would love to talk to a couple of them but don't want to tip my hand as I am planning to use the information in the future.

PNW, if you're up to the leg work, you can get an idea of the issues in why the men divorced her by checking the court files. The initial complaint would have some general as well as specific allegations, but would also depend on whether no-fault divorce is legal in that state. If so, the allegations might just be that the parties are no longer compatible, something like that (it's been years and I've forgotten the specific wording.)

The decree, or judgment of divorce, might shed more light as it will establish the terms of divorce.
GardenArtist...thank you for your response. Unfortunately we live in a no fault divorce state and most of the divorce decrees state "irretrievably broken". I have requested documents from the state in which her first two divorces occurred and have not received anything back yet.
So how long have your father and this... very busy lady been married?

His assets are protected. He's in a safe living environment. As you say, it's natural for him to have slowed down as his dementia progresses. And it's not obviously wicked for her to be meeting up with girlfriends from time to time. Is there any particular need for you to break them up?

You were against the marriage from the start, and you haven't changed your mind. It's not that you don't have your reasons, but surely you can understand why she doesn't look on you as a friendly presence?

You say she is not a black widow and that you have taken care of any worries about any medical and financial influence she may have, so I think you have covered all the bases. The way I see it the worst she can do is break his heart, and whether she leaves sooner because you find evidence which forces her out, or later because she is ready to move on to the next challenge, that ship has already sailed.
How was he allowed to marry with Dementia.
JoAnn, having a diagnosis of dementia does not automatically also mean you are legally incompetent. "Dementia" covers a huge range of cognitive impairments. Some people with dementia cannot even safely decide what to eat, or they might have toothpaste for breakfast. Others can decide on what they want in their wills and who they want for POA.

Someone whom the courts have deemed incompetent cannot enter into legal contracts, but not all persons with dementia are legally incompetent.

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