Spousal support: What if a marriage is not legally binding?

Not every California divorce is plain and simple, or obtained without complications. There are cases where spouses determine their differences are not reconcilable and they negotiate a fair settlement in a swift and amicable fashion. Many times, however, there are complex issues or spousal disputes that spark contentious court battles and lengthy proceedings. Actress Geena Davis has apparently been going through that type of divorce because of spousal support issues and a question as to whether she and her ex were ever really married.

Davis hired a wedding planner in 2001. She also ordered catering and enlisted the services of a minister to witness an exchanging of vows between her and the prominent surgeon she was seeing at the time. The surgeon, Reza Jarrahy, filed for divorce in 2018. He also petitioned the court for spousal support from Davis.

Things got messy when Davis told the court the couple has never been legally married nor did she or her partner ever intend to enter a legally binding marriage. She says the wedding she planned and participated in was a ceremonial gesture only. Davis says she and Jarrahy have always kept separate names, filed separate tax forms and have never blended their bank accounts.

To further complicate the spousal support case, the attorney representing Jarrahy explained to the court that there is film footage of a guest spot Davis did on Oprah Winfrey's show where the actress can be seen and heard telling the audience what a great husband Jarrahy was at the time. Family court judges often have their work cut out to sort out fact from fiction if a spouse requests financial support that the other spouse believes he or she is not entitled to receive. Anyone in California struggling to resolve such issues may want to seek guidance and support from an attorney who is well-versed in the divorce laws of this state.

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