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Man disputes alimony payments, marriage


Posted by Thomas Pettinicchi of D'Amico & Pettinicchi, LLC on Nov 29, 2012 in Alimony

We have previously discussed how traditional views on marriage and divorce are shifting in Connecticut and nationwide. Marriage rights are changing, couples are choosing not to get married in the first place and older couples married for decades are increasingly pursuing a divorce later in life. One aspect of matrimony that is now being explored has to do with distant marriages.

Recently, a man argued that he should not have to pay alimony payments to a woman because according to him, the couple was never married. Sources indicate that the man and the woman were married in 1993, but the man says that because he was not physically present at the wedding, the marriage was invalid. Nearly 20 years later, the woman filed for divorce and requested spousal and child support payments, which the man tried to deny.

In this case, the man participated in a wedding ceremony via phone, while his someone else stood in his place physically. The scenario is somewhat rare, but the court presiding over the case predicted that with increasingly mobile families and distant marriages becoming a couple's only option, it may become more widespread.

For the next 20 years of this couple's marriage, the man switched between claiming ignorance of the union and actively participating in vow renewal ceremonies, pursuing permanent residency status for his wife in the country and listing his "wife" as his beneficiary on a life insurance policy. These last actions were specified as proof that the marriage existed and was recognized by state law.

According to a recent judgment, the man had either falsified either his testimony, in which he says he believed the marriage was invalid, or federal documents. Either way, these were indications that he was simply trying to manipulate the system. Therefore, the court ruled the man was responsible for the compensation that his wife is requesting.

While this may be an isolated incident at this point, it is an important reminder of the unexpected challenges that can come up during a divorce. Not all requests for spousal maintenance and child support will be these tangled, but they are all important and will likely require the support of an experienced attorney.

Source: The Examiner, "Wedding absence doesn't get Maryland man off hook for alimony, court says," Nov. 24, 2012