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Articles Posted in Division of Assets

Two months after the news broke that Miley Cyrus’ parents, Billy Ray and Tish, are seeking a divorce after 17 years of marriage, celebrity websites are now reporting that the family’s Toluca Lake home has been put up for sale. According to Canada’s CTV News the family mansion is on the market and “Tish has reportedly been spotted looking for homes in Encino and is believed to be downsizing to a $4.6 million pad.”

As I noted in a post last month, Billy Ray and Tish filed for divorce in Tennessee (where Billy Ray is originally from) citing “irreconcilable differences.” Questions remain regarding how, exactly, the couple can get divorced in Tennessee granted that they rather obviously live in California. Also remaining to be seen is how this residency question may effect the eventual division of the couple’s California assets.

Regardless of whether this case moves forward in Tennessee or becomes a Southern California divorce, however, one potential California child custody question has now resolved itself: in the weeks since the divorce petitions were filed Miley, the family’s main breadwinner, turned 18 (custody of two younger children remains to be determined).

From across the continent, and a different Orange County (the one in North Carolina), comes an interesting divorce story offering lessons as relevant to the California Coast as they are to the Outer Banks.

According to Local Tech Wire, Dennis Gillings, CEO of Quintiles, is struggling to bat down industry speculation that his Orange County divorce will have an adverse effect on the company. Quintiles is described by Local Tech Wire as “the world’s largest life sciences services firm.”

“This is a personal family matter, not for public comment,” Gillings is quoted as saying, adding that he does not think his divorce will “impact” either the business or the company’s management. Local Tech Wire, however, quotes an area publication, the Triangle Business Journal, as speculating that “fallout” from the case could “affect” the company.

On Tuesday Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Scott Gordon issued a key ruling in the seemingly endless, blockbuster divorce of LA Dodgers owners Frank and Jamie McCourt. According to the Los Angeles Times, Judge Gordon invalidated the postnuptial agreement (technically known as a Marital Property Agreement, or MPA) signed by the couple in 2004.

MPA’s, like a prenuptial agreement, are meant to remove agreed-upon assets from the purview of community property laws in California and other states. Under the terms of the McCourt post-nup Frank would, in the event of a California divorce, retain sole ownership of the baseball team while Jamie became sole owner of the couple’s numerous homes. Granted that a 50% interest in the Dodgers would be worth immensely more than the couple’s reportedly large collection of houses Jamie held that the agreement was unfair and, therefore, invalid.

Perversely, both McCourts claimed to have neither read nor understood the document before signing it. Judge Gordon rejected this testimony as “not credible,” but focused his ruling on a more troubling legal issue. Specifically, in holding that the MPA does “not conform to California law” he cited the fact that Frank’s Boston-based lawyer, who drew up the document, altered it after both McCourts had signed it and without telling either of them. “The Court finds that there has not been sufficient evidence presented to indicate which of the two materially inconsistent MPA’s represented the actual intent of the parties,” the judge wrote, according to the Times.

Bloomberg Business news reported this week that the long-running California divorce of Los Angeles Dodgers owner Frank McCourt and his wife Jamie is now official despite the fact that the couple’s key property dispute – ownership of the baseball team – remains unresolved.

“Frank and Jamie McCourt’s divorce was made official Oct. 26, almost 31 years after they were married, according to a filing in state court in Los Angeles,” the news service reports. The report goes on to add, however, that while the Southern California family court judge’s ruling has dissolved the couple’s marriage, it will be at least December before he decides whether or not the couple’s much-disputed postnuptial agreement is or is not valid.

As my colleague Winiviere Sy noted when the case went to trial last September, the 2004 postnup specified that in the event of a divorce Frank McCourt would become sole owner of the Dodgers while Jamie would get the couple’s several homes. Jamie contends that, trusting Frank, she signed the document without reading it, and that its one-sidedness renders it invalid (the team is worth much, much more than the houses). Frank’s side says the document is valid, and has pointed out that since Jamie is, herself, a lawyer it is hard to believe that she did not know what she was signing.

Amidst the ongoing divorce between Kelsey Grammer and Camille Grammer, it was discovered that Kelsey attempted to conceal the purchase of a $6.5 million New York City apartment. Kelsey bought the apartment to share with his 28-year old girlfriend. Apparently, Kelsey was adamant in not letting anyone know that he bought the property that he made people sign a confidentiality agreement. His ex-wife, Camille, is reportedly “bitter” and distraught over the acquistion and his attempt to conceal the purchase of the property.

Kelsey’s conduct is a big “no-no” in the world of family law. In fact, his failure to disclose a material asset has severe consequences. For one, the disclosure of said asset must be set forth on the Schedule of Assets and Debts, whether acquired before or atter separation. Failure to do so could result in a set aside of the final Judgment if later down the line, the other spouse discovers the existence of said omitted asset. Secondly, Kelsey’s conduct is a breach of his fiduciary duty to the community. Additionally, the court could impose sanctions and order he pay a portion of Camille’s attorney fees and costs due to his bad faith conduct of failng to disclose a material asset. Regardless, the lesson to be learned is to disclose all assets and debts acquired before, during and after marriage.

Contact an Orange County divorce lawyer for more information on how to proceed with a divorce.

An issue that arises in an Orange County or Los Angeles County divorce proceeding concerns the disposition of disability payments. Generally, if disability payments are received and not deferred compensation after the date of separation, they are the separate property of the disabled spouse. Marriage of Flockhart (1981) 119 CA3d 240.

However, many times disability payments are elected in lieu of retirement benefits. In that case, to the extent the payments are earned by virtue of employment during marriage and before separation, the payments are community property. In this situation, payments that are compensation for disability are the disabled spouse’s separate property to the extent that they exceed what would have been received as retirement benefits. The remainder would be characterized as community property to the extent it would have been community property if received as retirement benefits. Marriage of Stenquist (1978) 21 C3d 779.

Obviously, the parties will each need to analyze the disposition of the disability payments before any final characterization is made. For more information on filing an Orange County divorce or if you have questions on how your disability payments should be allocated, contact and Orange County divorce attorney for more information.

Could Oscar winner, Morgan Freeman’s divorce result in one of the biggest payouts in divorce history? The National Enquirer is reporting that Morgan was forced to pay his ex-wife, Myrna, over $400 million in cash and real estate. It was back in July of 2008 that Morgan was outed by the National Enquirer for cheating on his wife with a former school teacher. At or about the same time, Morgan was purportedly having an affair with his 27 year old step-grand daughter.

Morgan’s divorce from Myrna was finalized in Mississippi on September 15, although the details were sealed from the public by a Tallahatchie County judge.

It was originally speculated that Myrna would receive a $170 million settlement, but a source says she got much more – a whopping $400 million. If its true, that would be the fifth-largest divorce payout ever.

A fascinating article recently published on the Fox Business website looks at the complex ways in which debt can effect marriage and divorce here in California and elsewhere. As the article notes, “any debts incurred” during marriage or residence in a community property state, such as California, “are considered jointly owned, regardless of who spent the money or why.”

The article is an advice column, and the author was responding to a specific question regarding a surviving spouse’s responsibility for debt incurred by the other person in the marriage in the event of that person’s death. As the column noted, the couple in question are separated.

Though focused on death, questions like these are also relevant to many California divorces. Sorting out assets and debt obligations can be one of the most complex elements of the Orange County property division required under California’s community property laws as part of a California divorce. Issues such as these can be one of the most challenging aspects of negotiating a Los Angeles or Orange County divorce.

A long-lived Hollywood marriage appears to be coming to an end. According to reports in People Magazine and on a number of celebrity websites, one-time rock star Nancy Wilson has filed papers with a Los Angeles court seeking a California divorce from her husband of 24 years, Oscar-winning film wroter-director Cameron Crowe.

According to People, the couple have been married since July 1986. Wilson, who with her sister Ann co-led the 70s/80s rock group Heart, reportedly cites “irreconcilable differences” as her reason for seeking a Southern California divorce. Crowe is best known as the director of the films Jerry Maguire and Almost Famous (for which he won a screenwriting Oscar in 2001).

According to People, Wilson has requested joint physical and legal custody of the couple’s 10-year old twin boys.

Mogul Russell Simmons and his ex-wife, Kimora Lee, finalized their divorce back in 2006. However, it was just last month that their New Jersey mansion sold for $13.9 million. This past weekend, they held a fabulous yard sale to sell the items contained within the residence. Everything from a $200,000 bed once owned by Gianni Versace to a $20,000 pair of bronze lions is up for grabs, according to a local North Jersey news site. However, shoppers who cannot afford those lavish price tags do not have to leave empty-handed: Items such as $20.00 doggie beds and $3.00 coffee mugs are also on sale.

It is not uncommon for divorced couples to dispose of their personal property after a divorce judgment is finalized. In fact, many times, judgments can set forth provisions for the disposition of personal property at a future date. Usually, couples cannot decide who will get what item and often times a Special Master will need to be appointed to help resolve property division. Another resolution would be to set up a yard sale just like the Simmons’ and split the proceeds.

For more information on obtaining an Orange County divorce, contact a reputable Costa Mesa divorce attorney.

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