Commitment Ceremony Won't Stop Ex's Checks
(CN) - A California appeals court refused to end $32,547 monthly spousal-support payments for a woman who had a commitment ceremony with another man after her divorce.
After separating in 2006, Andrew Left, a stock trader, agreed to pay his wife Andrea $32,547 in monthly spousal support and $14,590 in monthly child support.
The couple officially divorced in 2008, and Andrea got engaged to Dr. Todd Katzman, but there were still some contested issues in the Left divorce.
With the wedding scheduled for May 2, 2009, Andrea told her children's school about the upcoming marriage and honeymoon.
As it became clear that Andrew and Andrea would not resolve their divorce issues before the wedding, however, Andrea worried about involving Katzman in the divorce proceedings.
A former lawyer, Katzman refashioned the May 2 wedding as a "commitment" ceremony. But she wore a wedding dress and told the children to consider her and Katzman married. She and Katzman also signed a ketubah, the traditional Jewish prenuptial agreement.
Later that year, Andrew asked the Los Angeles County Superior Court to terminate his spousal support on the grounds of Andrea's remarriage. Andrea fired back with a claim that Andrew owed her nearly a quarter of a million dollars in unpaid support, and he was found guilty of nine counts of contempt.
At trial, guests from the ceremony testified that they believed that Andrea and Katzman had gotten married.
The court ruled, however, that Andrea has not officially remarried, and the Los Angeles-based Second District California Court of Appeals affirmed Thursday.
"Andrew has provided no authority that the term 'remarriage' as used in section 4337 means anything other than a remarriage carried our in conformity with the statutory requirements," Justice Victoria Chavez wrote for a three-member panel, referring to the Family Code. "Because Andrea and Todd did not meet those requirements, they did not marry, and Andrew's obligation to pay spousal support did not terminate under section 4337."