Articles Posted in Division of Assets

Mel B “Scary Spice” of the Spice Girls is getting a divorce.  She and her husband Stephen Belafonte separated last year in 2016.  Apparently she alleged that the marriage was toxic.  And from the tabloid coverage of the divorce proceedings it seems that they did have a quite volatile relationship.  Her musical career had a lot of great music and was quite harmonious, however, her personal life with Belafonte was full of dangerous issues that were anything like her music. Her bandmates had heard from her behind the scenes and told her she must free herself from the abuse she alleged to have undergone from Belafonte. Scary Spice recently suffered from the death of her father.  After his death she became introspective about her life.  Mel B apparently suffered from years of abuse.  Belafonte was allegedly abusive and controlling.  Police were called to her house on allegations of false imprisonment. meaning she was not free to leave her house in fear of violence or injury.

Mel B had previously been involved in bisexual relationships and had been planning the divorce for two years. She had attempted to split from Belafonte several times.  She would succeed in breaking up temporarily and then would somehow feel lured back into the relationship.  However, finally she decided to file for divorce in Los Angeles citing irreconcilable differences.  She shares a child with Belafonte named Madison Brown Belafonte.

Belafonte had admitted to battering his prior girlfriend Nicole Contreras. Mel B continued to make positive statements about Belafonte while she was filing for divorce which created confusion about her true intentions. In addition, she had a interesting past because had a fling with Eddie Murphy which produced her first child.

In Gutierrez v Gutierrez a Mississippi Supreme Court Case the supreme Court of Mississippi evaluated and ruled upon a very complicated spousal support and property debt and asset division family law case. The first major issue the trial court had to undertake was 2nd mortgage that was taken out soley during the marriage under Clayton Frank Gutierrez’s name.  The trial court laid out three questions it determined. Clay was the sole person who signed for the 2nd mortgage.  Trisha Guterriez did not sign for the 2nd mortgage.  In addtion the trial court ruled that the creditor did not make a claim for the enforcement of the 2nd mortgage.  The chancellor in Mississippi which would be the trial Court in California made each party responsible for the equal payment of the debt thus each spouse would assume joint responsibility for the 2nd mortgage.

Each party on appeal to the Mississippi Supreme court made a different argument based on the 2nd mortgage.  Mr. Gutierrez claimed that since he was soley liable for the note and signed for the 2nd mortgage he should be soley paying for the mortgage and not Mrs. Gutierrez. Mrs. Gutierrez appealed claiming she wanted a lump sum spousal support payment rather than monthly payments.  Each of their argument strongly relied on the outcome of how the debt and payments on the 2nd mortgage would be handled by the Mississippi Supreme court.

Mrs Gutierrez wanted that the 2nd mortgage remained community debt and jointly responsible to the both parties. If so she would gain much more ability to claim more spousal support.  Mr. Gutierrez wanted to claim it as his sole responsibility because then he would have more community debt to claim and thus less income to provide more spousal support to Mrs. Gutierrez.

Janet Jackson is going through a child custody battle and a divorce battle with Wissam Al Mana who is from Qatar and is a Billionaire who invests internationally in all sorts of things.  Recently they were seen in the Royal Courts in London after a court hearing on Custody.  It would seem she is involved in a hotly contested international child custody dispute. The couple had split in April after Janet had given birth to their daughter in January, Elissa.

In the Divorce proceedings word has gotten out that Janet will receive a sizable settlement payment from Al Mana around $200,000.  And she will remain in London to raise the child.  Janet is worth $150,000 so already has a lot of money and now will seek to increase her already wealthy amount of money.  This turn out to be an interstate child custody dispute and also an international divorce.  However, it appears the couple have settled on the London Courts to serve as the jurisdiction to hear the Divorce and custody matters.  The child Elissa was born in London so England would be her home country.  However, since Janet is also a US citizen she could also one day decide to head back to the US to live.  Likewise Al Mana is from Qatar and could also want at some time to take his child to visit or live in Qatar.  But for right now it seems that the parents have somewhat resided to the fact that London will be Elissa’s home.

Janet is talks to be part of a netflix 10 part documentaries about her life after her divorce from Al Mana.  This could net her a significant some of money which might effect the settlement of the divorce.  In California the courts look to the standard of living for the spouses post separation.  So the London Courts will probably do the same.

Actor Kevin Dillon of the famed series entourage has settled his divorce finally.  The funny think is that noon new he was getting divorced, that is how under the radar his divorce was. His now ex wife was Jane stuart who filed for divorce last July.  The couple was married for over 10 years.  The key battle that the couple had was over the date of separation of the divorce.  This can be a very hot item issue of a divorce as it nears the 10 year number of the length of the marriage.  The key benefit of the 10 year time rule is that the other party after 10 years can get lifetime spousal support from the other party. Jan stuart claimed that the couple separated May 29, 2016 which would have made the marriage ten years.  Kevin Dillon claimed the couple had separated in October of 2008.  Apparently the major squabble of the couple was over the residual payments the actor was to receive from his entourage show.

As with most of these cases … it settled before going to trial. Last month Kevin agreed to pay Jane $3,174 a month in child support for their 11-year-old daughter, and she gets $7,214 in monthly spousal support. Dillon is best known for playing a character on Entourage called Johnny Drama.

Kevin Dillon’s net worth is approximated to be $10 million dollars.  He earned most of his money from his role on entourage where he earned $16 million dollars.  That is why the date of separation was so important since they married in 2004 she would get a portion of his royalties from his show.  He was seen getting cozy with a blond lady last may which would imply that his wife might be correct in her assertion of the date of separation to be in May of last year.  Stuart claimed that Kevin Dillon under reported his income.  Therefore, this issue probably undermined the divorce process and she and her attorneys needed to do further discovery on Dillon to get an accurate assessment of his true income.

Getting married for a second time is fairly common. But the financial and estate planning issues that result from remarriage often pose a different set of problems than that of the first marriage.  For one, in the first marriage you have no prior issues to deal with such as children, support payments and an ex spouse to contend with.

The major problem with a second marriage deals with the issue of children. When you remarry with a different partner they too may have children and therein lies the issue of a new blended family. Child custody issues may arise not that there are new siblings and new stepparents involved in raising the children. If you have left over issues involving child custody then there might be difficult times ahead. The prior spouse may have issues with the new spouse their children. Who is making the rules now with the new family? is it the new spouse? Does their parenting of their children influence your parenting and effect your prior spouses concerns about their own children and what is happening to them.

If you and your new spouse keep a joint bank account to pay common bills therein lies another big problem.  If you have unresolved issues regarding money with the prior spouse then the second spouse might get involved in that dispute unknowingly and innocently.  If Creditors are after you from the prior marriage then they may continue the pursuit of your money including the bank accounts you have with the current spouse. Creditors are not going to divide the bank account they can attach and levy that holds your money.  Therefore you new spouse may jeopardize their own money by commingling in your bank account.  The best advise is the keep separate bank accounts from your new spouse knowing that the prior divorce is still pending and or many unresolved issues linger over for many years to come.

Huma Abedin the long time adviser/confident of Hillary Rodham Clinton the ex presidential candidate, ex secretary of state, ex senator and ex first lady.  And now Huma has finally cut the cord to her long time husband the ex United State House representative, and filed for Divorce.  Mr. Weiner plead guitly to texting obscene pictures to a minor.  This of course was not his first run in with exposing his self to others via text.  Huma gave Mr. Weiner a second chance after his prior criminal activity of exposure via text.  However, finally she decided enough was enough and a divorce was the only solution after his second exposure incident with minor children.

As stated on Cnn “”Weiner accepted responsibility for his conduct. “I have a sickness, but I do not have an excuse,” he said through pauses and bouts of tears in an emotional statement. “I entered intensive treatment, found the courage to take a moral inventory of my defects, and began a program of recovery and mental health treatment that I continue to follow every day.'”

Obviously this person has a sickness and a Divorce had to be on the horizon after his first bout of exposure to others. Mr. Weiner accepted a plea deal with the federal prosecutor where he could face 21 to 27 months in federal prison.

A recent Florida Supreme Court case has been published that reviewed a case regarding Hooker v Hooker.  The issue of Donative Intent became an issue of the parties.  The Supreme Court of Florida did not decide the fate of the issue of donative intent of the spouses but rather the appellate standard of review of the trial courts decision on donative intent.

The Florida Supreme Court said in its opinion that the trial court was correct in using “competent and substantial evidence.” “So instead of just determining whether or not there was competent evidence to support the trial court’s decision, the 4th (District) erred by actually reweighing the evidence and substituting their own judgment,”

In California if an order is appealed, the appellate court must use a standard of review of determining if there is substantial evidence that will support the family law courts orders. The appellate court cannot retry the case they are only to make inferences to make sure the trial court did not error on the use of the law.

Jesse Jackson Jr.  has been going through a bitter divorce with his ex wife, Ald Sandi Jackson. They were married for 25 years and continue their courtroom drama.  He was a former U.S. House of Represenative.  His ex is trying through legal means and her lawyer to find out very personal information from Jesse Jackson, Jr. such as all his girlfriends he had during their 25 year marriage.  The lawyer is using the process of Discovery to further investigate these lurid details.  The divorce proceedings are currently being heard in Washington D.C. Jesse Jackson, Jr. through his lawyers has objected to the questions stating that they are irrelevant.  Sandi Jackson is tyring to get spousal support and attorney fees.

The change of Venue has been a hotly contested issue of the Divorce proceedings.  Jesse Jackson Jr. filed for Divorce initially in Cook County Illinois first.  Later Sandi Jackson filed for divorce in Washington D.C. where she lives.  There usually is a first in time rule dealing with which state or county will hear the divorce proceedings.  However, often the Judges of each Court will contact each other and decide based on all the evidence, witnesses and other issues which jurisdiction is better suited to maintain jurisdiction of the Divorce case.  Apparently, the issue of venue was a big problem for Jesse Jacksion Jr. as his children who are 13 and 17 were he alleged being harmed unnecessarily by his Sandi Jackson’s harmful public comments.  Rather than fight the venue of the case he conceded that Washinton D.C. would be the appropriate forum to litigate their divorce.

Jesse Jackson Jr. had to resign from the U.S. House of Representatives because he had missappropriated $750,000 from his campaign treasury.  He ended up going to prison for this crime.  In addition, Sandi Jackson as well went to prison for her involvement in the crime.  Interestingly, both parents had to do their prison time separately and at different times because they needed to take care of their minor children.

Often parties to a marriage buy a home and eventually when the divorce comes are trying to split the marital equities and debts.  One of the hardest assets to divide is the marital residence.  Why is it hard to divide? Often there is a dispute as to how to get the highest value for the marital residence after the parties have separated.  herein lies the case of Easley v Easley a Case out of Alaska Supreme Court.  It involves the divorce of the husband and wife who owned a marital home in Alaska.  The parties were divorce in 2008 and had divided all marital assets including the sale of the marital home.  Or so it seemed. As the husband Easley claimed although the sale of the marital home was ordered by the Trial Court the Husband did not sell the home and divide the proceeds.

Why you might ask did he not sell the home back in 2008 when the judge ordered him to do so? The husband sat on his hands for 7 years claiming he was denied his due process rights in the order to sell the family home.  The husband Kevin claimed the legal defense of mutual mistake as to why he did not sell the marital home.  The home had declined in value and of course he did not want to sell the valuable asset at the time it was ordered.  He also claimed that he was denied his due process rights.

Now the argument for Due process violations has as far as I have ever seen in Family Law Cases showed up on appeal claiming that Mr. Easley was denied his notice and opportunity to sell the family home. Mr. Easley claimed there was actual prejudice, However, the Alaska supreme denied the actual prejudice.

Free-Scarlett-Johansson-Picture-300x225As it is has become apparent Scarlet Johansson has filed for divorce. Her husband Romain Dauriac is from France.  He does not appear to want to contest the divorce issue but seems likely to contest the Child custody issue.  He and Scarlet share a daughter who is a Toddler named rose. He states that he is the primary care giver of the child.  He further states that Scarlet is always on a film shoot and he has to make his schedule work for her while she films. Scarlet appears to be taking the high road according her statement to public.  She states that ultimately her daughter will know how her divorce went down.  Clearly Scarlet does not want to make any of her divorce issues public.  However, due to the public nature of her career how can she really argue she wants to make her divorce private when she is such a public figure.  Her statements about having a private divorce may be based on false hope rather than reality.

As far as the child custody issues go there appears to be a big issue with regards to international child custody laws.  As Romain is from france.  If both parties can agree as to a schedule of visitation and custody then the international child custody issue will not be an issue.  However, if Scarlet and Romain cannot agree as to any schedule, then who will become the primary custodian of the child, Rose will be a very important issue. And how that will be determined by the Court will be very factual sensitive.  The Court will have to investigate who partakes in the day to day upbringing of Rose and who can maintain that type of contact with the child going forward.  The law Family Courts use is the “Best Interest” standard.  There are many criteria the Court will assess and then determine what is in the Best Interest of Rose and who should she reside with.  The Court can also make a custody determination giving primary custody to a parent that does not live in the United States such as Romain.  Since France is part of the Hague Convention Treaty Courts in the United States can freely decide that a child can reside outside The United States without much fear of any risk losing jurisdiction.

Secondly, the Johansson divorce will involve some property issues.  As Scarlet is a high profile actress who makes millions of dollars for her movies it is apparent she makes substantially more money than her husband Romain who is a curator of Art shows in New York.  Normally there would be a very big Spousal support issue where Scarlet would be paying her husband Romain thousands of dollars of support for a period of half of the length of the marriage. But both parties signed a prenuptial agreement which probably contracted away any spousal support issues the couple might face during their divorce proceedings.  Therefore Romain probably will be given a much smaller settlement of any assets Scarlet earned during their marriage.