Reese with her parents, children, and brother's family in 2010 (Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images)While mom-to-be Reese Witherspoon grows her own family with new husband Jim Toth, her own parents are in the middle of a bizarre legal drama with accusations of bigamy. The Academy Award-winning actress' mother, Mary Elizabeth Witherspoon, who is known as Betty, filed a lawsuit in a Tennessee court on Tuesday asking that her husband John Witherspoon's recent marriage be annulled because he is still legally married to her, reports the local paper The Tennessean.
Apparently John, 70, quietly married Tricianne Taylor, 60, in January. The newlyweds then put a wedding announcement in the local paper, which ran April 22. The problem? He's still married to Reese's mother. In Betty's lawsuit, which is filed against her husband as well as his new bride, she says she still loves John and doesn't want a divorce from him. She claims that her husband is troubled and has issues with finances, alcohol and hoarding. She also believes he could be suffering from early-onset dementia. She listed some of his assets, which include at least five motorcycles, five boats and a new Cadillac.
According to Betty's affidavit, when she confronted her husband about his marriage, "He said he didn't know who Tricianne Taylor was and that he did not remember getting married." Despite this, Betty alleges that Taylor is living in a Nashville condo which is owned by Reese. Also, Betty says John tied to bring Taylor to Reese's California wedding in 2011, but the woman was refused entry by security guards because she was not on the guest list.
Betty is seeking to have the marriage annulled and Taylor barred from removing any assets owned by John.
This isn't the first family legal drama for Reese, who is looked at as one of the more together Hollywood stars. In 2002, her brother John Draper Witherspoon was arrested in Nashville on charges of aggravated burglary and sexual battery. A woman was asleep on her living room sofa with her front door unlocked when Reese's brother, who was her neighbor, entered her home, started kissing her and put his hand into her underwear. He later pleaded guilty to the misdemeanor charges of trespassing and attempted sexual battery.
The new drama with her parents comes at a time when Reese, 36, is expecting her first child with Toth, whom she married in March 2011. She already has two children — Ava, 12, and Deacon, 8 — with ex-husband Ryan Phillippe.
The actress has opened up about her family in the past, telling Parade she was raised with traditional values in a devout Episcopalian family by her surgeon father and mother, who was a professor of nursing. "It was a close-knit community," Reese said. "We'd go to church and see people in need in the pew next to us, and I was taught compassion and service by watching my parents helping them." She noted: "Family is all we have in life."
She has also said that it's hard living so far away from her family. "Sometimes it's really difficult for me, being far away from home and living in Los Angeles," she said in 2009. "I never imagined that my children wouldn't grow up next door to my brother's children, or my mom and dad wouldn't constantly be around... At least I have a lot of Southern friends in Los Angeles, I gravitate toward them."