Reese Witherspoon (L) and her mother Mary Elizabeth "Betty" Witherspoon, shown here after the Academy Awards in 2006.

Story highlights

Mary Elizabeth Witherspoon: She learned of her husband's marriage in a newspaper

"I fear that he has early onset dementia," she says of her husband

The Witherspoons, married for 42 years, separated in 1996 but never divorced

Reese Witherspoon's rep says "no comment" on her parents' dispute

CNN  — 

Reese Witherspoon’s mother wants a Tennessee judge to annul her husband’s recent marriage because she says she is still married to him, according to court documents.

“I love my husband and do not want a divorce,” Mary Elizabeth Witherspoon said in a sworn affidavit. “We have been married for 42 years. He needs help.”

The couple separated in 1996 “because of his alcoholism, infidelity, overspending and hoarding,” she said.

Witherspoon, who said she speaks to her husband of 42 years “many times per week,” learned through a Nashville newspaper announcement last month that John Witherspoon married “a woman named Tricianne Taylor” on January 14, the annulment petition said.

Witherspoon, 63, said her husband, 70, denied getting remarried, but a marriage license was filed, the petition said.

“When I confronted my husband, he said he didn’t know who Tricianne Taylor was and that he did not remember getting married,” she said.

“I fear that he has early onset dementia,” Witherspoon, who is a retired nurse, said in her petition, which was filed Wednesday.

The court filing claims that Tricianne Taylor, also known as Patricia Taylor, is aware that he is still married because the first wife told her on April 30.

“She refused to talk to me,” Witherspoon said in her affidavit. “I also wrote her a letter stating that John Witherspoon was married and had two children and four grandchildren. I have had no response. But she clearly knows now that she is married to a man who is not divorced.”

Witherspoon raised concern that her husband is in danger. “My husband is diabetic, has heart disease, and is otherwise not in good health,” she said in her filing. “He could easily die through lack of medicine, or too much medicine, or some other malicious act.”

He was recently “let go from his medical practice” in Nashville, where he worked as an otolaryngologist for 30 years, she said in the affidavit.

The first Mrs. Witherspoon has a harsh assessment of Taylor.

“My husband’s spending practices have accelerated,” Witherspoon said in her statement. “I now understand that he may have borrowed $400,000 at Bank of America and either forged my name or had his girlfriend posing as his wife sign. This past week he bought a black Cadillac.”

Taylor “attempted to crash the March 2011 wedding of Reese Witherspoon, but was denied entrance because she was not on the guest list,” the petition said.

“I have since learned from friends and investigators that Tricianne Taylor has attempted to borrow money as Ms. John Witherspoon,” her affidavit said. “Also, she is living in the condominium owned by my daughter Reese. And she is driving our vehicles. I have also learned through an investigator that she has gotten my husband to sign a new will.”

Reese Witherspoon’s representative said “no comment” when CNN asked about the case.

CNN has been unable to contact John Witherspoon or Taylor for comment. Court filings do not identify their legal counsel.