A Texas man wants a court to reconsider a 2019 divorce settlement in light of the fact that his ex-wife has been charged with bigamy.
Mark Athans, 56, told ABC affiliate KTRK on Wednesday he fears being sent to jail for refusing to pay the $73,000 sum.
“What am I supposed to tell my son? ‘I’m sorry, son, but I’ve got to go to jail for 18 months,'” Athans said. “I’m not trapped. I’m up against the wall. My last resort was to bring this before the public. Hopefully, the public can show, if anything, how bad this has gotten. It shouldn’t have gotten this far. The court is responsible for this.”
According to the Montgomery County resident, a court ordered him during the appeal to pay $3,000 a month in spousal support to Charity Parchem, 42, his former wife. Athans told The Courier of Montgomery County he shouldn’t have to pay because Parchem was still married to other men at the time he married her. Under federal and state law, the additional marriage would be invalid.
He has filed a motion requesting a judge take a second look at the settlement. Parchem has asked the judge to enforce it, KTRK reported.
Online court records show Parchem was indicted on felony bigamy charges in February. According to court documents, she has been married three times, but investigators could only find evidence of one divorce.
“She planned all this. I was a mark,” Athans told NBC affiliate KPRC this week.
He also said his marriage to Parchem quickly derailed because of “financial irregularities” and infidelity on her part. Only five months after their August 2017 wedding, Athans filed for divorce. He learned that Parchem was currently married to at least one other man during the divorce proceedings.
Montgomery County Judge Patrice McDonald would not allow the bigamy indictment to be brought up during divorce proceedings, KPRC reported.
Athans, who appeared before McDonald on Tuesday, is ordered to appear in court on Sept. 25.
Charity Parchem and the gender wars in courts
Whether men or women tend to come out on top is a hotly contested question in the “gender wars.”
Men complain that because they tend to earn more, they take a bigger hit when marriage ends. But women note that they often often suffer more post-divorce because they have put their careers on hold to raise children.
Not everything is about money, though. In March, the Arizona appeals court ruled that a woman named Ruby Torres could impregnate herself with embryos she and her ex-husband had preserved during their marriage. Despite his objections to the plan, the ex, John Terrell, could even be required to pay child support.
“It is, of course, true that if Torres were awarded the embryos, Terrell could be legally responsible to financially support the children,” the ruling stated. “That reality is the same today as it was when the parties executed the (in vitro fertilization) agreement nearly four years ago.”