Geena Davis testified Thursday that she does not believe she was ever legally married to a plastic surgeon who filed for divorce from her in 2018 even though a video of a 2001 ceremony shows her vowing to love him as her husband until death.
Testifying during a Los Angeles Superior Court hearing to determine the validity of her marriage to Dr. Reza Jarrahy, the 63-year-old Oscar-winning actress said that the former couple never obtained a marriage license and that she does not believe his father was qualified under New York law to marry the couple in the way a priest, rabbi or judge could.
The Iranian-American Jarrahy maintains his father was a valid officiant under Islamic law. The 48-year-old physician filed his petition in May 2018 and is seeking spousal support.
Judge Mark Juhas said his only task is to decide whether Jarrahy’s father had the authority to marry the couple. But Jarrahy’s lawyer, Stephen Kolodny, said the video of the purported wedding that took place in the Hamptons on Long Island, New York in September 2001 is also a test of the actress’ credibility.
According to Kolodny, Davis had her publicist tell the world a day after the ceremony that she and the doctor were married. The actress also held herself out as a married woman for the duration of the 17-year relationship with Jarrahy, said Kolodny, who played the video of the ceremony in court during the hearing.
Kolodny questioned Davis about her vows in the video when she told Jarrahy that she considered him her husband and that she would love him until “the end of my days.”
“Were you lying when you said that?,” Kolodny asked.
“No” Davis replied.
“You meant that?” Kolodny inquired.
“Yes,” Davis replied.
Kolodny also has argued that Davis researched and planned the ceremony and agreed that Jarrahy’s father could officiate.
But Juhas said he was not convinced by Kolodny’s argument.
“People say things at weddings,” Juhas said, adding that if everyone was held to what they said during their vows, no one could legally divorce.
Earlier in her testimony, Davis said she and Jarrahy agreed not to get a marriage license until after the ceremony. She said she had been married three times before and feared the media could find the license, figure out where the ceremony was being held and disrupt it with helicopters as they did with one of her previous weddings.
Davis said they ultimately never obtained a marriage license.
She said that during their relationship, they filed separate tax returns and held property in their own names. She said she paid the household expenses.
Davis testified Jarrahy did not claim the two were legally married until they separated, when he told her that he believed they were together long enough to have a common-law marriage. Common-law marriage is not recognized in California.
Testifying after Davis, Jarrahy said his belief that his father was authorized under New York law to marry him and Davis was based in part on conversations he had with a Catholic priest he knew and also on the doctor’s online research. He said Davis also agreed to have his father officiate.
Echoing Kolodny’s argument, he said Davis never told him before their separation that she did not believe they were married.
Asked by Davis’s lawyer, Peter Lauzon, about a 2012 email the doctor penned in which he said he and Davis were unwed, Jarrahy said he was being sarcastic when he wrote it.
Jarrahy said that only three months after the Long Island ceremony, he suggested that he and Davis renew their vows before a justice of the peace in Santa Barbara. He said came up with the idea as a romantic gesture and not out of concern they were not already validly married.
The explanation brought only further questioning from Lauzon, who wondered aloud how the doctor thought it would be romantic to renew vows before a judge.
The former couple have a 17-year-old daughter and twin 15-year-old sons. Jarrahy filed for divorce in May 2018 and asked for spousal support, as well as joint legal and physical custody of the children.
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