Facebook Bigamy - The Epidemic of Getting Caught
March 13, 2012
Topic: Social Media & Marriage
Pick your favorite search engine and search for "Facebook bigamy," or, better yet, just point your web browser to your favorite news outlet, and you are likely to run into a story or five about the Washington man who was just charged with bigamy (i.e. having two wives.) In their tale, Wife Number One discovered via Facebook the existence of Wife Number Two, even though she never remembered getting a divorce.
The real drama ensued after Ellenora Fulk, of Tacoma, Washington, received a Facebook friend suggestion indicating the social media engine's finding that she would be good Facebook friends with a woman by the name of Teri Wyatt - O'Neill. When Fulk looked into Wyatt - O'Neill's profile further, she discovered a photograph of the other woman drinking champagne next to a wedding cake alongside her estranged husband, Alan Fulk. After she apparently confronted Mr. Fulk, she learned that the corrections officer changed his last name to O'Neill after leaving her. In fact, he begged his first wife not to tell his second wife about the deception. But Ms. Fulk did the honest thing, alerting the authorities to her husband's law-breaking. This story subsequently made national news when O'Neill, 41, was charged with bigamy. Now, he could face up to a full year in jail if he is convicted.
If this story sounds a bit familiar to you, you may recognize in it elements of the Lynn France case that previously made national news in 2010 and that our firm continues to handle. Like Ms. Fulk, Ms. France learned of her husband's fairy tale "Sleeping Beauty" (but nonetheless bigamist) marriage via Facebook. In Ms. France's case, she was faced with the hard photographic evidence of the Orlando, Florida wedding which apparently had taken place in spite of the fact that no divorce had ever stemmed from her Italian wedding to the man. John France continued to maintain that his first wedding to Lynn was not valid due to a technicality even though they lived as spouses and raised children together, so he never bothered to get a divorce. After fighting it out in courts in two different states and the national media for nearly two years, Lynn was finally vindicated when she was granted a divorce from the man in January 2012. While far more important, substantive, issues remain pending, it is apparent that Mr. France, like Alan Fulk (aka Alan O'Neill) is a bigamist.
Perhaps not surprisingly, when the news of the Fulks' story broke people immediately mentioned the France case in connection. In fact, I received calls from media outlets wondering if this was just the start of an "epidemic" of bigamy brought about by Facebook. In fact, it's not at all. This bad behavior is no new trend. It went on long before the advent of Facebook. What is new, thankfully, is the greater ease with which these bigamists are able to be caught in their reprehensible behavior. What previously might have required herculean efforts and no small amount of happenstance and luck might now be discovered with a few mouse clicks. The "epidemic" is thus not in the behavior, but in the getting caught red-handed!
Adultery/Infidelity and Divorce
Best Interests of the Child
Divorce and Small Business Assets
Estate Issues in Divorce
International Law and Family Matters
Law Practice Nationally Recognized
Law and Policy
Religion and Divorce
Same-Sex Marriage and Divorce
Social Media & Marriage
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