Media reports concerning last week’s Southern California family law hearing involving Mel Gibson and his ex-girlfriend, Oksana Grigorieva, indicate that some of the couple’s issues have been resolved by the judge hearing the case but the most contentious items are not among them.
According to a report on People magazine’s website, the judge ruled against Gibson on an accounting question related to the support payments he makes to Grigorieva. As this blog has noted in the past, Gibson has been ordered to pay Grigorieva $20,000 per month. Recently, however, he has withheld those funds while seeking to determine whether the $6000 he pays each month for the home in which she lives counted toward that sum. According to People the judge ruled that it does not and ordered him to come up with the $60,000 that is currently in arrears.
According to CNN the judge, however, did not make a decision on the difficult issue of visitation rights for the couple’s one-year-old daughter. Grigorieva wants to terminate Gibson’s rights to overnight visits with his daughter. The couple are due in court again on November 22, though, according to People, a decision on the custody and visitation issues is not expected until early next year.
Another area in which Gibson appears to have suffered a setback was the judge’s refusal to issue a gag order to prevent Grigorieva and her attorneys from discussing the case with the media. The request, however, spotlights one of the key aspects of the case: its notoriety. Any Los Angeles or Orange County divorce or custody proceeding involving a movie star is bound to be fodder for the celebrity press. One might ask whether Gibson (who has lived in the spotlight for many years) seriously believes that a gag order would make coverage of his case go away? A gag order applied to Grigorieva and her attorneys won’t quiet the media, so exactly what purpose would it serve?
There may, of course, be broader questions at issue that a gag order would address. The fact that Gibson is also facing possible domestic violence charges even as his request for overnight visitation rights comes before the court is likely to have been a significant factor in his attorneys’ decision to seek the gag order. Assessing whether such questions raise an issue worth slowing down the proceedings is exactly the sort of issue that a Los Angeles or Orange County family law attorney is best positioned to help clients address. Every California divorce, child custody or visitation proceeding is unique. That fact makes experienced professional representation all the more important at every step of the process.