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Father of groom sues bride's dad after couple splits

The marriage lasted about a year but the bitterness continues.

In this case, it's not the bride and groom battling it out in court over money matters — it's their parents.

Montel Nelson, father of the groom, claimed he loaned $4,000 to Wilma Pierre Louis, the bride's dad, in 2008 but was never repaid.

Pierre Louis, a stock broker from Miramar, said the money was never a loan; it was meant to help pay for the April 2008 wedding of their children, which cost $14,880. He said Nelson sued him for the $4,000 because the couple split so soon.

On Thursday, they had their day in court, in front of Broward County Court Judge Martin Dishowitz.

"They were supposed to pay 50 percent of the bill,'' said Pierre Louis, who came to court with wedding photos, reception hall bills, and a narrative of what he claimed took place, written on a yellow legal pad. "I have never been in a position where I needed to borrow $4,000."

The bride and groom, Farah and Jerster Nelson, who are both of Haitian descent, had a reception for about 175 guests at Floridian Ballrooms in Pembroke Pines. About a year later, they called it quits.

Pierre Louis claimed in court that both sides of the family planned to pitch in for the wedding, which he said was customary in Haiti.

"I did not borrow their money,'' said Pierre Louis, who tried to establish he was not friends with the fellow father-in law.

"Have we ever watched the Super Bowl together?'' he asked Nelson, a retired machine operator from North Miami Beach. "Have we ever been in a car together? We have no personal relationship.''

But Nelson said the connection was his son, who approached him before the wedding about making a loan to his future father-in-law. Nelson said Pierre Louis explained he needed the money to take a trip to Brazil and would repay it once a hold was taken off his bank account.

His wife backed up his testimony.

"I thought he was a man of character,'' Nelson said. "It's all lies.''

Nelson said he gave his son $2,000 towards the wedding expenses. But he said the $4,000 check made out to Pierre Louis was a loan.

When it was time to pay the money back, he said Pierre Louis kept dodging him.

"He finally told me he's not going to give me any money back. He said 'take me to court,' and he said that money was for the wedding reception,' Nelson said.

Jerster Nelson said he felt responsible for his family's ordeal.

"I'm the one who asked my dad to loan him the money,'' he said. "I thought he would be responsible and bring it back.''

Attorney Michael Styles, who represented Nelson, said in his 26 years of practicing law this was the first time he had a case involving two father-in-laws.

Andrea Syrtash, a relationship expert and editor of "How to Survive Your In-Laws,'' said while money often plays a big factor in in-law disputes, "it usually has more to do with their judgment of how their son or daughter-in-law is handing finances.''

She said this type of wedding dispute is unusual.

On Thursday, Judge Dishowitz ruled in favor of Nelson, saying the bride's father kept changing his story.

Pierre Louis is now on the hook for the $4,000 plus about $500 in interest and court costs.

"I'm going to appeal it,'' he said.

Nelson said he didn't want to have to bring the dispute to court to settle it.

"It's a few thousand dollars; it's nothing,'' he said. "As a family member, he could have talked to me.''

Georgia East can be reached at geast@sun-sentinel.com or 954-572-2078.

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