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Ben Vereen – Bigamist or Not?

Marriage certificate being cut in half

Ben Vereen married Andrea Tonsley Vereen more than 50 years ago. The Marriage was short and sweet. It lasted only 2 years. Thereafter, Mr. Vereen remarried. Both Mr. Vereen and Ms. Tonsley remarried and had children with their new spouses. They stayed friendly during the 50 years that have ensued since they split up.

Applying for Social Security

Last year, Andrea applied to Social Security. When she applied, she found out she was still married to Mr. Vereen. Mr. Vereen recalled appearing in court and having their marriage dissolved. He assumed he had been divorced. However, the Social Security Administration had no record of his divorce. Mr. Vereen became concerned because he had remarried in 1976 and had 5 children with his second wife. He wondered as to whether he was a bigamist.

Prior Attorney Deceased

The lawyer that had represented Mr. Vereen in the 1970’s was deceased. Mr. Vereen hired several lawyers to try to uncover the problem brought up by his first wife. The New York Post and People Magazine wrote articles about the situation. This created an embarrassing situation for Mr. Vereen.

Eventually Mr. Vereen found a lawyer who was able to uncover the fact that in 1974 a final judgement of divorce was entered between him and Andrea Tonsley Vereen. They actually had been divorced for 42 years.


Attorney Elliot S. Schlissel

It is highly recommended when you get divorced to save a copy of your divorce documents. You will be surprised how often these documents will come in handy.

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