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Grayson v. Grayson: A Case of Marriage Annulment in Florida

News stories about the complicated divorce proceedings of high-powered couples are nothing out of the ordinary in Florida. In many cases, the main complicating factor is the couple’s wealth.  It is not simple to divide a couple’s assets when they own many millions of dollars of property together. In the divorce of Alan Grayson (D-FL), a former member of the United States House of Representatives, from his ex-wife Lolita, division of property ended up being the least of the complicating factors in the case. In 2015, their marriage ended by annulment, not by divorce.

The Marriage(s) of Alan and Lolita Grayson

Alan Grayson and Lolita Carson married in 1986; it was a second marriage for both. The couple went on to have five children together. In 1990, Lolita Grayson applied for United States citizenship, and Alan Grayson saw her citizenship application before she submitted it. On the application, she listed her marital status as “separated.” More than 20 years later, during the couple’s divorce proceedings, it was revealed that Lolita was still legally married to her first husband at the time that she married Alan Grayson. In 2015, a judge annulled their marriage, declaring it void because of bigamy. In other words, the court declared that the couple had never been legally married because Lolita was legally married to someone else when she and Alan Grayson married each other.

How is an Annulment Different from a Divorce?

The Graysons’ divorce was complicated for many reasons. In addition to the couple’s acrimonious disputes over their assets, which were valued at approximately $30 million, Lolita accused her husband of physical abuse. The divorce proceedings ended up dragging on for years.

It was the revelation of bigamy that became the deciding factor in the court declaring the couple legally unmarried. According to Florida case law, bigamy is one of the most compelling grounds for annulment; it automatically means that the marriage is void. Florida law distinguishes between a void marriage (one that, legally, never existed) and a voidable marriage (one that is no longer legally valid). In some ways, an annulled marriage is like a divorce, but in some ways, it is different. For the Graysons, it meant that the court did not award alimony to Lolita. If their marriage had been valid, she might have been eligible for permanent alimony, as courts sometimes award permanent alimony in divorces that follow very long marriages. This is notable because the couple had fought bitterly over the division of their property during the divorce proceedings. At the time of the annulment, four of the couple’s five children were still minors.  Therefore, the parents were still financially responsible for them, as any parents, married, previously married, or never married, would be under Florida law.

Contact Alan Burton About Division of Property

Void marriages are an extreme case, but there is great variation when it comes to how Florida courts divide a couple’s property. Contact Alan R. Burton in Boca Raton, Florida about the division of property between you and your ex-spouse.