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What would you do to avoid paying alimony?

Most people wouldn't attest that they could see their divorce as they exchanged vows on their wedding day. Unless someone is secretly marrying for money or another nefarious reason that has nothing to do with love, it's hard to imagine that one day he or she will be arguing over alimony, child support or who gets to keep the house.

But when that day comes, many couples find themselves wishing they'd never been married. In one very unusual case, the husband is not only wishing he'd never tied the knot; he's tried to make that case in court.

Here's the truthful part of the man's story: He didn't attend his own wedding. Because he was working on assignment for the World Bank at the time of his wedding in 1993, his cousin physically stood in for him while he listened in on the ceremony by phone. The wedding was held in the Congo, and after the ceremony the man and his wife settled in Arlington, Virginia.

But recently, almost 20 years later, the man's wife asked for a divorce, complete with alimony and child support. The man is now denying that the marriage was ever valid because he wasn't present when it happened. Never mind the renewal of the couple's vows in 1994, or the fact that the man specifically listed his "wife" as his beneficiary on his life insurance form. Acknowledging his marriage also allowed the woman he married to obtain permanent residency status in the United States.

These were just a few reasons the Maryland Court of Appeals rejected the man's claim that the marriage wasn't valid. A lower court called the man a liar, either to the courts, immigration officials or his wife. He now appears to be on the hook for all of the obligations that other divorcing spouses have.

Pretending your marriage never happened might make you feel better at times, but it won't protect you from having to pay alimony or other forms of support. A better line of defense is to contact a family law attorney to help you through the divorce process and all of its very real consequences.

Source: The Washington Examiner, "Wedding absence doesn't get Maryland man off hook for alimony, court says," Brian Hughes, Nov. 24, 2012

• Our law firm handles divorce, alimony and a wide variety of other family law issues. To learn more about our practice, please visit our Dallas divorce page.

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