California Divorce Filing by Hopper Puzzles Many

In one of the stranger Hollywood divorce twists in recent memory, a number of recent media reports indicate actor Dennis Hopper has filed for California divorce from his wife Victoria even as he lies dying of prostate cancer. A persistent theme of the reporting is that money – specifically the disposition of the actor’s estate when he passes away – may lie at the heart of this unusual situation.

Hopper, 73, has a famously rocky personal life (one of his marriages lasted only eight days). Victoria is his fifth wife and by most accounts their 14-year marriage has brought the actor some personal stability. Media reports say a battle between Victoria and Hopper’s adult daughter (from an earlier marriage) Marin may be at the root of a dispute over money and custody of the couple’s six-year-old daughter.

It is difficult, of course, for outsiders to judge these things, but if the picture painted in the media is accurate the various members of the Hopper family seem destined to end up in court. This will be especially true if reports that the actor is heavily medicated most of the time – and, therefore, arguably not completely in control of his faculties – prove to be accurate.

As any Los Angeles family law attorney could advise, the Hopper situation is an example of why California estate planning and other family legal matters should never be left until the last minute, particularly in cases such as this where it is unclear that a California prenuptial agreement exists. Putting one’s affairs in order before health issues arise is always a wise move. An Orange County family law attorney can advise clients on estate planning, as well as child custody and visitation issues that may arise in wake of the death of one or both parents.

A major goal of such planning should be to avoid a situation in which uncertainty about your wishes leads to family members to spend the months or years following your death fighting each other in court.

ABC News: Why is Dennis Hopper divorcing his wife from what may be his deathbed?

Huffington Post: Dennis Hopper Divorce Shocker