Geena Davis, star of iconic films such as Tootsie, Thelma and Louise and A League of Their Own, is attempting to get out of her divorce from Dr. Reza Jarrahy by not getting divorced at all. After Jarrahy filed a Petition for Dissolution in Los Angeles County in May of this year, Davis filed a Request for Order asking the Court to dismiss the divorce action because she alleges that they were never married.
According to Davis, the couple never obtained a marriage license when they had their wedding ceremony in 2001. She also alleges:
- They always filed tax returns as “single” or “head of household”
- They never owned any real property together, and the property they did own was titled as “sole and separate”
- They had no jointly titled bank accounts or credit cards
- In 2012, Jarrahy submitted an application for a home loan in which he stated “I filed my 2009 tax returns as a single individual because I am not currently married. Miss Davis and I cohabitate and co-parent our 3 children but are not officially wed.”
In California, a valid marriage must comply with Family Code §300 which requires that the parties consent to a marriage, have a license issued and that there is solemnization (a ceremony). However, Family Code §2251 provides that if a determination is made that a marriage is void or voidable and the court finds that either party or both parties believed in good faith that the marriage was valid, the court shall assign the status of a putative spouse to one or both parties.
The Court of Appeal in Ceja v. Rudolph & Sletten Inc. (2013) 56 Cal.4th 1113 held that the commonly understood meaning of good faith, i.e., a state of mind denoting honesty of purpose and freedom from intention to defraud, should be applied in putative spouse cases. “Good faith” must be judged on a case-by-case basis in light of all the relevant facts.
Davis has started building her case that there was no good faith belief in the marriage and it appears that Jarrahy will be arguing he is a putative spouse. If no marriage license exists and Davis’ claims are true, Jarrahy has an uphill battle to be declared a putative spouse. Davis has had a very lucrative Hollywood career, most recently starring in Grey’s Anatomy on ABC, and Jarrahy could lose out on millions of dollars in spousal support and quasi-marital property (property that would have been community if the marriage had been valid).
There may be no crying in baseball, but Jarrahy and Davis are about to discover that there is often crying in divorce court.
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