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Newlyweds in their nineties end up in court: What's the legal case?

A Virginia couple who has married in their ninth decade has been called to court over a civil dispute concerning the wife's two grown daughters, who have been caring for their mother in her senior years.

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    This photo taken Aug. 5, 2014 shows 96-year-old Edith Hill and 95-year-old Eddie Harrison in their home in Annandale, Va. The two have been companions for more than a decade They married earlier this year, with a 95-year-old church elder presiding over the ceremony.
    Matthew Barakat/AP/FILE
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The recent marriage of Edith Hill, 96, and Eddie Harrison, 95, has given new meaning to their state’s slogan “Virginia is for Lovers.” Yet in this case love may not conquer all, since the couple was taken to the altar by one of Mrs. Hill’s daughters and to court by the other in a case that will soon determine the fate of both the newlyweds' marriage and property rights.

The couple, who have been friends for more than a decade, were married earlier this year.

Rebecca Wright of Annandale, Va. and her sister Patricia Barber of Alexandria had co-guardianship of their mother over the past several years, according to the Associated Press

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A large part of parenting is the guardian role that parents fill, and these sisters entered into a partnership to look after their mother’s well being in her later years.

Ms. Wright chose to guard her mother’s immediate happiness, which was fulfilled in getting married, apparently without telling her “co-parent” sister.

Ms. Barber claims the wedding has complicated the matter of how to eventually distribute Hill's estate, which includes property on the edge of Old Town Alexandria, worth about $475,000, according to the news report.

In a hearing earlier this month in Alexandria, Virginia, Judge James Clark, did something very interesting and perhaps wise.

He dissolved the union of the two sisters as guardians and appointed attorney Jessica Niesen to find what is best for their mother’s platinum years.

However, bound by the law, Judge Clark also declared the union of Ms. Hill and Mr. Harrison “improper” due to the fact that only one of the daughters was aware of the marriage taking place.

This also happens to be an interracial marriage between a black woman and white man who have spent half their lives living in a state where that kind of union was considered both “improper” and illegal. However, the legal debate now doesn’t center on race.

Wright told the AP that her own personal research of the “Guinness Book of World Records” shows that the two are most likely the nation’s oldest interracial newlyweds.

The fate of this couple’s marriage is yet to be determined, but Hill’s granddaughter is rooting for love to conquer all.

"You catch them kissing all the time. They're actually in love. Really in love. ... I know he's part of the reason she gets up every morning," Robin Wright, Hill's granddaughter told The Associated Press.

Judge Clark gave the romantics among us hope when he pointed out that breaking up the couple could "create a circumstance in Ms. Hill's life that she doesn't deserve," according to The Associated Press.

It seems that all too often, we deal with our discomfort over witnessing the elderly kissing, dancing, or being an aged version of ourselves in ways that may accidentally dismiss them as an adorable anomaly rather than a future to which we may aspire.

I see an opportunity to find both wisdom and hope in this evolving story of family and star-crossed lovers.

This man and woman were born in 1917 and 1918, respectively.

That means they have things in common we only read about in history books.

They witnessed Prohibition from start to finish; World War II from start to finish.

Hill and Harrison have been here from the birth of the Civil Rights movement to the election of President Barack Obama.

This couple has witnessed the first man to walk on the moon they once looked up at with previous spouses who have long since passed on.

In recent years, they’ve had the chance to watch the Mars Rover explore that Valentine-red planet via the Internet.

In many traditional religious wedding ceremonies, like the one my husband and I shared 25 years ago, the person officiating says, “What God has joined together, let no man put asunder.”

In this case, God is in the details of court documents and a judge who will have to decide if Virginia is for all lovers or just those who are young.

I suspect that no matter what a court of law decides, it will never override the feelings these two people have found in each other across the boundaries of time, space, race, and family dispute.

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