But she says she only discovered last year on Facebook that John France, 63, had an entirely separate life in Tampa with another wife. He's living here with a 25-year-old bride and the Frances' two young boys, Lynn France's attorneys said.
``Now, that's the only way I see my children'' on Facebook, Lynn France said in a phone interview. ``It's just surreal.''
Lynn France, 41, garnered national attention after she told the story during an appearance on NBC's ``Today'' show Tuesday.
John France and his attorney, Gary Williams of Clearwater, made their own ``Today'' show appearance Thursday. In a interview with the St. Petersburg Times, Williams explained his client's side of the story.
He said Lynn France knew they weren't legally married. The couple signed an Italian marriage license and had a lavish destination wedding at the Amalfi Coast, but the license was never filed, Williams said.
He said John France has repeatedly offered to let Lynn France visit their children in Tampa. He's willing to establish joint custody, Williams said.
But Lynn France says her marriage was genuine. In 2005, she said, they used a company called Weddings in Italy to help them obtain and file the necessary documents to get legally married.
She also insists she was blind-sided when she discovered wedding photos of her husband with his new bride on Facebook.
The two were married at Disney World in December 2008, with the Frances' two young boys in attendance. John France was dressed as Prince Charming, said Lynn France's attorney, Andrew Zashin. The license was recorded in Hillsborough County.
John France's attorney said it was a valid wedding.
But Lynn France's attorneys point to the Italian marriage certificate. It's an ``international treaty'' to accept it, Zashin said.
In court filings, Lynn France's grandmother recounts the week of Lynn and John's ceremony. The couple and a few guests flew from Cleveland to Italy. The day before, the two bought rings. Then, on July 24, 2005, they stood before a priest and exchanged vows.
``The wedding was in a beautiful Catholic Church ,'' Jacqueline R. Rhodes wrote in a letter filed in Hillsborough Circuit Court. ``After the ceremony, the priest laid a large church record book on the altar, and we all signed it.''
In nine signed affidavits filed in Hillsborough Circuit Court as part of the case to set up a visitation schedule with the children, friends of the couple wrote that, as far as they knew, Lynn and John were married.
John France also thought at one time he was married to Lynn France, his attorney said. But in 2007, Williams said his client wanted a divorce but after some research, discovered he didn't need one. They were never legally married, Williams said.
Since the couple disagrees on that point, it appears the issue will have to be decided in court. The question is: which one?
John France filed for paternity and to set up a parenting plan in Hillsborough in March. Then, in May, Lynn France filed for a divorce in Ohio. The Ohio case was closed because a judge decided Florida had jurisdiction, but her attorneys plan to appeal.
In the meantime, the children, ages 2 and 3, are living in Florida. John France said he's willing to set up joint custody as long as his house is the primary residence for schooling.
He owns a Tampa Palms home valued at $788,000, county records show. His wife says on Facebook she's a student at the International Academy of Design & Technology.
Zashin said he's not sure joint custody will work.
``It's going to be hard to co-parent with a man who makes these outlandish statements,'' he said.
Times news researcher John Martin contributed to this report.