Wife Finds Hubby’s Other Wife On Facebook

Posted August 7, 2010 in Your Family & The Law by Arthur Buono

A 2010 remake of the film "Sex, Lies, and Videotape" might be called "Facebook, Updates, and Divorce." This week brought us yet another example of marital strife seeded via the social networking octopus. A Cleveland woman named Lynn France with an uneasy intuition typed her husband’s name into Facebook and found out she had a new in-law. A wife-in-law.

  • To friend or not your husband’s other wife?
  • Husband claims first marriage not valid
  • Social media stoking privacy concerns
  • Copy this link to share with friends: http://bit.ly/9o4SGi


Bigamy Discovered in Facebook Search

OK, there’s no such thing as a wife-in-law. This is not what you’d call a real legal relationship in the United States. But what else would you call the woman your husband also happens to be married to? And it suits our purposes for discussion of a couple of always important and current issues: family law and internet privacy.

In all states, marriage means a legal union between two people. Historically this has also meant two people of the opposite sex, but not always anymore. So when a man’s married to two women (or two men, or one of each) at the same time, that’s bigamy. It’s big of him (hat tip Groucho Marx) for sure. Bigamy, and polygamy too, has pretty serious consequences. For one thing, it’s a crime. For another, it’s grounds for divorce. Sometimes it happens carelessly or mistakenly, like when the second marriage occurs before a divorce is finalized. Some cases involve nefarious men – almost always it’s the man – with bad intent. The problem is real. Because state law governs marriage, there’s no central marriage database, and it’s very hard to know if the person you’re marrying is already married.

Social media and the internet can really make and break lives now. You must be on your guard just to fend off unwanted intrusions into your privacy every time you log on and start browsing. So you really don’t need the added consequences of publishing your most confidential information and/or ill-advised actions on social media platforms like Facebook. This case has a few quirks. For one it’s not clear wife number two, whose Facebook page clinched wife number one’s suspicion, posted anything but what she thought were photos of her fairytale wedding. For another, there are hallmarks of a publicity-cum-reality show stunt. Both Lynn and her alleged husband John France appeared on the Today show this week. Still, as we’ve pointed out before, the lawyers are having a field day with Facebook.

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