Shaquille O’Neal and his soon-to-be-ex wife Shaunie are getting divorced in Florida, but, according to a number of media reports, California family law courts will retain jurisdiction over child custody issues.
Since it first hit the news last November the O’Neal divorce has included several twists that are eyebrow-raising even by celebrity standards. As I noted in my original post last fall, the California divorce case broke out into public view when Shaunie left the couple’s home in Florida, flew to California, declared herself a resident of the state on arrival and filed for California legal separation the following day. As my colleague, Winiviere Sy, noted in a related post, this episode raised several interesting issues concerning residency requirements and highlighting the differences between the legal requirements governing California divorce and California legal separation.
At the time, most observers assumed Shaunie was attempting to establish residency in the Los Angeles and Orange County area with an eye toward divorce, and the state’s community property laws. Shaq appeared to share that view, since his lawyers filed papers seeking to have the case thrown out of California family court on the grounds that the couple did not live here.
According to the latest media reports Shaunie has, in fact, remained resident in California since the original filing and the couple’s two children are living with her. According to The Washington Post, the couple have now reached a settlement under which “Florida judges will issue the divorce decree and handle any future property issues; California, where she now lives with their kids, will handle custody issues.”
Orange County divorce is rarely simple, and any divorce proceeding involving multiple states is likely to involve an extra degree of complexity. The sooner you enlist the assistance of an Orange County divorce lawyer to help sort through these legal issues the more likely you are to see your case proceed smoothly. An experienced Orange County divorce lawyer can offer advice on the best ways to deal with jurisdiction questions that might impact both a California division of assets and California child custody issues.
Washington Post: Love, etc: Shaq and Shaunie O’Neal finalize divorce