California Community Property Suit Filed by Diandra Douglas

If at first you don’t succeed… try again in California. That appears to be the approach Michael Douglas’ ex-wife Diandra is taking after a New York judge threw out her suit seeking half of the actor’s earnings associated with the film Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps.

As my colleague, Winiviere Sy, noted in a post last month, the former Mrs. Douglas – whose split with the actor was finalized way back in 1997, went to court in New York seeking a post-judgment modification. The crux of her claim is that because the couple’s California divorce settlement entitles her to 50% of any money Douglas earns from movies he made while they were married, as well as 50% of his proceeds from any “spinoffs” from those films, she is entitled to half his income from the new “Wall Street” film. The movie, released last September, is a sequel to 1987’s “Wall Street”, for which Douglas won a Best Actor Oscar. Douglas plays the same character, financier Gordon Gekko, in both movies.

A key aspect of last month’s dismissal in New York was the fact that it came on jurisdictional grounds. Diandra had sought to bring the issue before a New York court because both she and Michael now live there. Without taking any position on the merits of Diandra’s claim, however, the judge threw out the case because, he said, it belonged in a California court, not a New York (the couple’s divorce was originally concluded here in California). Now, according to the New York Post, Diandra is actively shopping for Southern California family law attorneys as she seeks to revive the case, probably in Los Angeles.

As an analysis by the Today Show noted, setting questions of jurisdiction aside, the case will turn on the question of whether a “sequel” and a “spinoff” are the same thing. Diandra says they are. Michael says they are not. The distinction is important because the couple’s California divorce settlement has provisions for dividing assets from “spinoffs” but, apparently, says nothing about “sequels”.

It is too early to say how successful Diandra’s arguments will or will not be once they reach a Los Angeles or Orange County family court. What is certain is the important role careful legal work will play in the outcome – a reminder of the important role that finding the right Orange County divorce lawyer plays in any family law case.

New York Post: Diandra takes her case west

Today on NBC: Douglas’ ex wants to cash in on ‘Wall Street 2’

Monsters & Critics: Michael Douglas’ ex-wife taking Wall Street cash battle to California