It was the perfect scene for a marriage. In a place called Kissimmee, Matthew J. Ditzel, 30, and Heather M. Bowser, 31, were married on a lakefront on a beautiful day on May 24, 2008 and the union was certified by notary and Wyndham Resorts employee, Veronica Gonzalez. There only one thing missing: Matthew. Bowser claimed that he had agreed to a marriage “by proxy.” They are now finally both present, albeit in court in a fascinating Ditzel v. Bowser where Bowser wants a divorce and Ditzel wants the court to declare that there was not marriage in the first place.
Gonzalez is a co-worker of Bowser and recently pleaded guilty to false acknowledgment by a notary public, a misdemeanor, and received a year’s probation. She also lost her job and her license.
Bowser insists that Ditzel agreed to the marriage by proxy and just wants to avoid a division of the marriage property. There is a curious quote attributed to defense counsel’s court representation that “They have witnesses to state that Mr. Ditzel made announcement that they were married, there is a celebratory dinner, announcements made about rings, and they consummated like bunnies.” Of course, “consummating like bunnies” may not be as important as a valid license in this case, though it appears that this was proof of marriage was not done with proxy bunnies.
Proxy marriages were used by nobility for marriages of convenience to create alliances between nations.It turns out that there are people who specialize in marriage by proxy arrangement, here. Proxy marriages are illegal in all states with the exception of California, Colorado, Kansas, Texas and Montana. It is most often used by members of the military and indeed, in California, it is only legal for members of the armed services. The real standout is Montana, which allows double-proxy marriage. Now, if only you can have double-proxy marriage that continues after the ceremony. That would likely bring down divorces dramatically.
It turns out that the idea of being marriage by proxy was a good idea for this particularly couple, which tended to have problems when they were in close proximity to each other. On July 3rd, Ditzel accused Bowser of domestic violence. He later called the police to say that he was married without his knowledge.
In the meantime, Wyndham also got rid of Bowser and she was arrested on three fraud-related felony charges.
At least Bowser did not claim to be married to the judge, as in a case this week in New York.
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