A recent divorce hearing involving Florida U.S. Representative Alan Grayson and his wife of 35 years Lolita Grayson captured the attention of media outlets not only because of Rep. Grayson’s vast fortune (approximately $30 million) but also because of allegations of bigamy leveled against Ms. Grayson. Ms. Grayson is seeking a part of Rep. Grayson’s fortune as alimony. Rep. Grayson, through his attorneys, is claiming Lolita is a bigamist and was legally married to another man at the time she and Rep. Grayson married. This would enable Rep. Grayson to be granted an annulment and deny Ms. Grayson any alimony at all.
Bigamy – What is Florida’s Stance?
A person who, while legally married to another, marries a second spouse is guilty of bigamy under Florida law. The former spouse must be living at the time the second marriage takes place, and in order to be prosecuted as a crime the second marriage must usually take place in Florida. There are several exceptions to the bigamy statute; namely, a person is not guilty of bigamy if he or she reasonably believes the first spouse has died or reasonably believes he or she is legally eligible to be remarried.
Aside from being a criminal act, a spouse who marries another while he or she is still legally married to the first spouse has entered into a void marriage. This type of marriage is not valid from the outset and the legality of the marriage can be challenged at any time. As illustrated in the Grayson case, a void marriage can result in an innocent spouse being denied spousal support even if the two parties have been together for decades.
What Should I Do if I Believe My Spouse is a Bigamist?
Claiming that your spouse is a bigamist is a serious allegation that can have equally serious legal and financial ramifications for you and any children you and your spouse had together. It is best to consult with an experienced family lawyer before proceeding to court, especially if you are the “second spouse,” because:
- If your marriage is found to be void, you will lose any alimony and other benefits you would otherwise be entitled to; and
- Children born in a void marriage are not considered “legitimate” children since the marriage was never valid. The father will have to go through a “paternity action” to be legally considered the father and which action will establish timesharing and child support. If the mother wants to receive child support and other benefits for the children, then she would have to pursue a paternity action.
Bigamy in a marriage is rare; however, it does happen with and without the consent of all the parties. Before you take action yourself, contact a Tampa divorce attorney at All Family Law Group, P.A. We can examine the facts of your particular situation and advise you as to whether your spouse has committed bigamy and what this means for you. We will help you take the best steps for your future and the future of your children. Contact our offices in Tampa Bay at 813-321-3421 for a consultation at no charge or email us.
By Lynette Silon-Laguna Google+