Brazilian model Juliana Custodio, 42-year-old Michael Jessen’s fiancée on Season 7 of TLC’s 90 Day Fiancé, is just 23 years old. But it seems that she’s already had a great deal of life experience. The young model has opened up in the past about her alleged history of human trafficking, exploitation in the fashion industry, and extreme poverty. The latest 90 Day Fiancé episode suggests that there might be even more to Juliana’s past.
After meeting Michael, a Connecticut-based wine entrepreneur and divorced father of two children, on a yacht party in Croatia, Juliana and Michael said they fell in love almost immediately. After two years of a long-distance relationship and several K-1 visa application delays, Juliana was finally able to join Michael in Greenwich, Connecticut, in preparation for their wedding.
But on the Dec. 8 episode of 90 Day Fiancé, “Premature Departure,” Juliana revealed that despite their massive age difference, Michael wouldn’t be her first husband. The 23-year-old model was married for a year back in Brazil when she was just 19 years old.
Many ’90 Day Fiancé’ fans already believed Juliana had been married before
For many 90 Day Fiancé fans who follow the cast members’ social media accounts closely, Juliana’s previous marriage wasn’t a revelation.
In a question and answer session with fans on Instagram in Nov. 2019, Juliana seemed to subtly confirm that she had already been divorced once.
A fan asked Juliana, “How long were you married to Kayque [and] how old was Luigi when you were with him?”
The 90 Day Fiancé star responded, “Ugh, guys, I wasn’t married to him! We just lived together. And Luigi was 45, and he was just my boyfriend.”
Because of her wording, which suggested that she had ‘just’ lived with one previous boyfriend, some fans took her statement to mean that she had indeed been married to someone else.
Juliana and Michael referred to her previous marriage as ‘arranged’
In “Premature Departure,” Juliana and Michael confirmed the rumors. While planning their own wedding, the 90 Day Fiancé couple’s wedding planners asked if either of them had been married before. Juliana revealed that Michael wasn’t the only divorced person out of the two of them.
“I married before but I didn’t have like, real wedding,” she explained. “I was with my ex-husband for one year when I was about 19 years old.”
Michael said that the union boiled down to what many Americans would think of as essentially an “arranged marriage,” as Juliana was pressured to marry a certain man by her family and culture.
The ’90 Day Fiancé’ star said the marriage was doomed from the start
Juliana confirmed Michael’s claims about her previous marriage, saying, “I didn’t want to marry him but with so much pressure from my family and the church…I mean like everyone saying that if I not marry him, God will not bless you for the rest of your life. And I was so scared.” The 90 Day Fiancé star looked sad as she recounted the difficult time in her life.
Her wedding to Michael was especially important, Juliana explained, because she never had a proper wedding with her previous husband. “The way we married, no one was there,” the 90 Day Fiancé star said sadly. “My family, my friends. It was just me and him. We signed the papers and we had lunch. And he start complain about how much he pay for the lunch.”
Things didn’t get any better from there, she said, and the marriage soured quickly. “The marriage was bad. Really bad. I decide to divorce, and I move out,” Juliana explained.