A fairy tale wedding has turned into a nightmare child custody battle for an Ohio woman. The woman says she discovered on Facebook that her husband was leading a secret life with a second wife.
John and Lynn France had an elaborate 2005 wedding on Italy's romantic Amalfi Coast. After the wedding, they moved into a large home in suburban Cleveland and had two boys.
The Nightmare Is Revealed
Over time, Lynn France said her husband grew distant, spending long periods away from their home. She said she suspected an affair and went to Facebook to learn more about a woman she believed might be carrying on a relationship with her husband. She says that to her astonishment, she found on the woman's Facebook page photos from a 2008 Disney World wedding — a wedding in which the woman was marrying John France, Lynn's husband.
In an interview with Cleveland's WJW-TV, France said, "It's heart-wrenching and it's shocking and it's just too many emotions to put into words."
The occupational therapist said her husband took the couple's two young boys with him to Florida in May. She is now fighting in court to regain custody from him and his new wife, Amanda France.
John France said on NBC's Today Show that his marriage to Lynn France in Italy was never valid. He said necessary paperwork was never filed and therefore the marriage was never legally binding.
He also contends that Lynn France lied about discovering his second marriage on Facebook. He charges that she's using the allegation to get attention and gain leverage in their custody battle.
He said he did at one time believe he was married to Lynn, but after asking Italian lawyers to look into the matter, he discovered that the wedding and marriage were invalid. He said that's why he never sought a divorce: He believed he didn't need one.
Lynn France and her attorneys say the couple filed joint tax returns and other legal documents over the years indicating they were legally married. She says that without an annulment or divorce, she is still married to a man she says is now a bigamist.
How Will It End?
If it's determined that John and Lynn France are legally married, it seems likely that she will prevail in the child custody battle and that he could face criminal accusations of bigamy in Florida.
Even in a no-fault divorce state, a court is going to take into consideration matters in which one side or the other is clearly at fault.
In Michigan, a divorce attorney can answer questions about complex divorce disputes involving child custody and related matters, helping clients protect both their families and financial interests.