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Ex-wife remarries, puts alimony case behind her

The two-year battle led to a change in state alimony laws, but their case isn't over.

Published March 9, 2006

The woman whose unofficial Las Vegas wedding to her live-in boyfriend inspired statewide legislation has tied the knot.

Beth Rice signed a marriage license Nov. 25 with longtime love Stanley Blacker and dropped her alimony claim, said Michael Rice, who has been fighting his ex-wife in court for nearly two years.

Still, the legal case drags on.

The 2nd District Court of Appeal last week upheld a lower court decision requiring Michael Rice to pay his ex-wife $5,000 a month even after the Vegas ceremony in June 2004.

The appeals court did not explain the decision. Michael Rice said he was disappointed the court didn't comment on the new law, which allows judges to cut off alimony when an ex-spouse moves in with a new lover.

"I can't begin to comprehend why or how the (court) didn't seize the opportunity to issue an opinion that would at least provide some guidance and precedence to the numerous cases that are pending before our state courts since the enactment of this new law," Michael Rice said.

Blacker said his wife did not want to comment on the case for the sake of the two children she has with Michael Rice.

"We certainly don't want to affect their relationship with their dad," Blacker said.

Michael Rice said he is considering asking a judge to decide his case under the new law, which was signed by Gov. Jeb Bush in June.

The case of Rice vs. Rice began in January 2005 with a trial in Tampa in which Hillsborough Circuit Judge Robert Foster was asked to determine whether the Vegas ceremony between Beth Rice and Blacker constituted a marriage.

Despite an exchange of rings and the repeating of vows, Foster ruled it was not a marriage because no marriage license was signed. He ordered Michael Rice to pay $30,000 in alimony that had been in limbo between July 2004 and January 2005.

State lawmakers were outraged and used it to pass a law allowing a judge to reduce or cut off alimony when an ex-spouse is cohabiting.

While Michael Rice said he no longer has to pay alimony, he's not off the hook financially. His ex-wife is suing him for attorney fees.

Carrie Weimar can be reached at 727 892-2273 or

[Last modified March 9, 2006, 02:45:12]

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