Monday, December 17, 2012
Help Me Howard: Married Twice
If marrying one woman is good, then marrying two must be great right? Apparently, that's what one man thinks after being accused of marrying his second bride, without divorcing his first. Is it legal? It's why the first wife called Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser.
WSVN -- People will tell you love is fantastic, fun, exciting. Sometimes it even leads to a wedding.
Domenic Coney Jefferies: "It was big, beautiful, lots of people lots of fun, happy day, a happy moment. I enjoyed it."
And just as sure as people fall in love, just like in Domenic's case, the love went out of the relationship.
Domenic Coney Jefferies: "He went his separate way, I went mine."
According to court records, Domenic and Clarence Jeffries were married in 1997. They had a son and by 2000 they had split up.
But Domenic said the one thing they did not do was ever get divorced.
Domenic Coney Jefferies: "I have no idea why. I was ready at the time of the separation. Ready for a divorce, but some how he would not follow through."
In fact there is paperwork that shows they started the divorce process but never officially finished it. 12 years flew by, then Domenic said her son came home with some news.
Domenic Coney Jefferies: "My son found out by a relative of his on his daddy's side that his father was getting married. Then, I think my son was like in disbelief as if it was a joke."
To find out if he was going to stroll down the aisle again, Domenic called her long estranged husband.
Domenic Coney Jefferies: "I said, 'congratulations, I heard you getting married today,' and he was like, 'yeah, yeah, thanks, thanks, I appreciate that."
Then Domenic asked a question.
Domenic Coney Jefferies: "'Are you going to marry her, when you are still married to me?' And the phone got silent."
Domenic said he did speak up that day when he told his new wife I do. But Domenic said as far as she knows, he never divorced her.
Domenic Coney Jefferies: "We are still legally married by the state of Florida. I never signed any papers, I never went to court, nothing concerning a divorce. Unless he did something to make that happen."
The wedding to another woman surprised her and aggravated her because the son she and Clarence had, was not invited to his father's wedding.
Domenic Coney Jefferies: "That is your only child. And you couldn't even invite him to the wedding? You personally."
But Domenic's legal question is, can you get married to one person, if you are still married to another person?
Howard Finkelstein: "No. In America, the law calls it bigamy and you can go to jail for it. Unless it was an honest mistake. In other words, you thought you were divorced and by the way, if you marry someone else while married, the second marriage is not valid."
We first checked the Miami-Dade clerks court records. It showed that Clarence was officially married to a woman named Darlene this year.
We checked every record we could find. The state had no record of a divorce between Domenic and Clarence.When we spoke to Clarence, we asked if he had gotten married this year. He said yes.When we asked if he was still married to Domenic, he said to ask her. When we asked if he had divorced Domenic, either he hung up or the phone got disconnected.
Howard Finkelstein: "The solution is simple. He has to go to court to get divorced in the first marriage. Then, if he wants to marry the second, he has to do it again. And he needs to move quickly and maybe then he will not be charged with bigamy."
Domenic doesn't know what Clarence will do but she does know one thing, she is glad she didn't do what came to her mind on the day of his wedding this year.
Domenic Coney Jefferies: "I was going to ride over there. Just before the preacher say, 'anybody got something to say speak now or for ever hold your peace,' that's when I was just going to decide to just stand up and raise my hand and say, 'I do.'"
She didn't do it and that's probably a good thing. We know what her husband has to do to clear up this thing and legally what can Domenic do. She can do nothing or she can file for divorce from him and then live happily ever after.
Wedded to a problem that's left you all wound up? Ready to divorce yourself from it? Contact us. We don't perform ceremonies, but we hope you say I do. Like Help Me Howard, we need the job. With this Help Me Howard, I'm Patrick Fraser 7News.
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