The life of a celebrity is almost constantly under the microscope. This is due in no small part to the internet and the phenomenon of social media. These days, one can barely move without the world knowing one’s business in intimate detail, and it seems as though no one’s secrets are safe. It may come as a surprise to some California residents when a long forgotten divorce turns out to be in dispute.
Ben Vereen, who starred in the miniseries ‘Roots’ in the 1970s, recently discovered that he may have spent 36 years in a bigamous marriage with his second wife because his marriage to his first wife does not appear to have been legally dissolved. In 1965, he married his first wife, Andrea, in Maryland, but filed for divorce from her in 1972 before moving to California. It is alleged that Andrea filed divorce papers in 1974, although Andrea allegedly denies filing any papers and is also reported to have stated that she was never served with papers after Vereen left her. With no further action on either spouse’s part, both parties thought that the divorce had gone through.
In 1976, Vereen then married for a second time — this time to Nancy Bruner in California — but he divorced from her in 2012 due to irreconcilable differences. At the beginning of this year, Andrea applied for social security at age 65 and stated that she was divorced: however, there was no proof of this. Upon calling Vereen to clarify matters, Vereen instigated divorce proceedings against Andrea, and she, as the first wife, is now pursuing a claim for equitable division of marital assets and alimony, together with payment of her lawyers’ fees.
This is perhaps an extreme example of how complex marriage and divorce issues can be. Both marriages – and subsequent attempts to divorce – were in different states, which may create additional complications. Whatever one’s circumstances – and however difficult the way forward may at first appear – seeking the appropriate advice and guidance will help one cut through the confusion in order to pursue the best way forward.
Source: allmediany.com, “Ben Vereen Unknowingly Committed Bigamy“, Laura Tucker, Sep. 11, 2016