Witherspoon Bigamy Case Developments

As previously blogged about here on the Iowa Family Law Bulletin, actress Reese Witherspoon’s mother, Betty Witherspoon, has petitioned a Tennessee court to annul a marriage between her husband of 42 years and his new wife, Tricianne Taylor.  Betty and John Witherspoon separated in the mid 1990′s, however, have remained in contact with one another, even attending family events together.  They are not divorced.

Family Concerns for John Witherspoon

Betty and the Witherspoon children, including Reese Witherspoon, appear to be very concerned with John’s mental state claiming that he suffers from dementia and alcoholism.  They claim that Witherspoon’s new wife is taking advantage of him by applying for loans and apparently making changes to his will.  John reportedly told Betty that he did not remember marrying Tricianne.  John Witherspoon is in a conservatorship, but apparently, this has not prevented Tricianne Taylor from allegedly becoming a part of John’s financial life.  Tricianne strongly denies the accusations made against her.

Judge Appoints Lawyer to Conduct Investigation

A new development  occurred in the case when a Tennessee judge appointed a lawyer to investigate the events in John’s life that Betty and the rest of the Witherspoon family are alleging.  The hearing scheduled for later this week has been indefinitely postponed.

Media Petitions Court for Access

Reese has been attending court hearings with her father, however, the judge in the case has barred all media presence in the courtroom.  However, a local television station has petitioned the court to unseal the filings in the case and make all future filings and hearings accessible by the media.  This motion has been set for hearing on June 25, 2012.


Reese Witherspoon’s Mother Files Petition to Annul Alleged Bigamous Marriage of her Husband

On May 8th, Actress Reese Witherspoon’s mother, Mary Elizabeth Witherspoon, filed a petition for annulment in a Nashville, TN Court.  According to the Washington Post , Witherspoon alleges that she is still married to her husband, John Witherspoon, and that he has married another woman, Tricianne Taylor, who may be taking advantage of him.

Betty, as Mary Elizabeth is known, is also alleging that John has had quite a few personal problems such as alcoholism and some professional misfortune that has led him to be vulnerable to Ms. Taylor.  Betty also believes John may be experiencing dementia.  Ms. Taylor has had John sign a new will, and is attempting to take out bank loans under the name Tricianne Witherspoon.

When confronted by Betty about his January 2012 nuptials, John claims to not remember marrying Tricianne.  Although Betty and John have been separated since 1996, neither has filed for dissolution of their marriage, according to Betty.  Betty does not desire a divorce at this time.

She is, in addition to petitioning the court for an annulment of the marriage between John and Tricianne, asking the court to order Tricianne to return all assets and move out of residences owned by the family.  A hearing has been set for May 31st, 2012 in Davidson County Circuit Court in Tennessee.

Bigamy in Iowa

Iowa Code Section 726.1 lists Bigamy as a serious misdemeanor.  According to the statute, any person with a living husband or wife who marries another commits the crime of Bigamy.  There are several defenses to Bigamy however, including, if the first marriage was terminated or the person reasonably believes the first marriage was terminated, the person reasonably believes their first spouse is dead, or if for 3 years, there has been no evidence that their spouse is alive.