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Unusual divorce case involves absentee groom

Family courts in Connecticut and across the nation deal with a wide range of divorce proceedings. While many follow the 'traditional' lines of the divorce process, some present unique and sometimes even bizarre legal challenges to the table. One recent divorce case gives an excellent example of the types of issues that courts must determine.

The case involves a man and wife who were married in an African country. At the time of the wedding, the husband could not attend the actual ceremony due to his employment in another country. He had a cousin stand in for him, and was present via telephone for the ceremony. The couple later relocated to the United States, and lives out the course of their marriage on American soil.

Nearly two decades later, the wife filed for divorce, and asked for child support, alimony and property division in her filing. The husband, for one reason or another, claimed that he was never actually married to the woman due to the fact that he was not present at the wedding. He claims to have been "'unaware'" of the marriage for all those years.

A court ruled that the marriage was legitimate, and ordered the man to provide compensation to his wife. He appealed that decision, and a state Supreme Court recently ruled on the matter. They, too, determined that the marriage was valid, regardless of the absence of the husband. In making this determination, they reviewed evidence from the original hearing, including proof that the husband had claimed the woman as his wife on immigration and tax documents for years following the ceremony.

As this case demonstrates, each divorce is unique. Couples who are beginning the divorce process should be prepared for any number of legal challenges, and have a solid understanding of their rights under Connecticut law. While most spouses will not attempt to proclaim the union illegitimate, there are a range of other issues that can complicate the divorce process.

Source: WashingtonExaminer.com, "Wedding absence doesn't get Maryland man off hook for alimony, court says," Brian Hughes, Nov. 24, 2012

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