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Articles Posted in Division of Assets

It’s no surprise that Spencer Pratt and Heidi Montag are officially calling it quits by filing for divorce. Spencer admits that he was too concered on fame rather than focusing on his marriage. Similarly, Heidi states that she and Spencer just wanted “different things in life.” As in any divorce case, whether it be in Orange County or Los Angeles County, couples will need to separate their community property assets and debts. The process is not easy and it takes a lot of time and effort to work out the details.

Further, although the couple does not live together, Heidi states that they “share (their) puppies.” This brings up an interesting question that we do not see too often in divorce proceedings, but it does come up every once in a while: What happens to the community property acquired pets when couples divorce? In California, pets are not treated like children where one party will take custody of the pet for a certain amount of days and then the other party will take the pet for another several days. In fact, pets are treated like personal property. The pet will either be awarded to one party in a divorce judgment. I’ve also heard of couples who sell the pet and split the proceeds. Selling the pet will likely be emotionally tough for any pet owner but it does happen. The best, less traumatic way to decide on what happens to a pet during a divorce is to award it to someone and be done. So, will the puppies end up with Heidi or Spencer?

Source: Heidi Montag and Spencer Share Puppies— But Not a House.

In the latest twist in what is becoming a large – and very public – Southern California divorce proceeding, businessman Elon Musk has published a long essay at The Huffington Post to, in his words, “correct” the public record about his California divorce from ex-wife Justine and his financial situation.

As I originally noted back in May, Justine, a successful novelist, has taken to blogging about her divorce, using the public forum of the internet to defend her contention that the couple’s post-marital agreement was “extremely harsh” and needs to be renegotiated. Several weeks later word began circulating in the business press that Musk was essentially broke – subsisting on loans from friends “and spending $200,000 a month while making far less.”

In his Huffington Post article Elon Musk, one of the founders of PayPal, seeks to address the image those reports created: of a man so rich that he felt he could not scrape by each month on what, for most Americans, is a head-spinning sum of money. While stating that “I never said… I was “broke” or even that I lacked considerable assets,” Musk claims that the vast majority of that monthly figure – $170,000 – is going to the accountants and lawyers working on his divorce-related issues. Another $20,000, he says, goes to Justine each month with the remaining $10,000 covering his own living costs. He also goes out of his way to defend his continued use of a private plane, saying it is essential to his work as head of both SpaceX, a company trying to bring commercial uses to space exploration and Tesla, an auto company that is preparing to launch an all-electric car aimed at consumers.

The situation involving Elizabeth Edwards and John Edwards is not uncommon for couples in distress. Elizabeth and John are separated but they do not intend to file for divorce until someone decides to remarry. For most people, upon one person’s infdelity, it would make sense for the other party to want to cut all ties, divorce and move on with their life. Such is not the case for Elizabeth and John Edwards. Elizabeth states that the couple plan to sell their $5.5 million mansion in Chapel Hill, North Carolina because their “dream house” just does not have any meaning anymore.

In divorce proceedings here in Los Angeles County and Orange County, liquidation of a community property residence is normal. It’s one step towards resolving the property division aspect of the divorce. However, sometimes, if the couple have minor children, the parent raising the children usually wants to hold on to the house until the youngest child turns 18 so that the child can continue with their education in the environment they have grown familiar to. The less disruption for the child, the better the situation becomes. The Edwards’ still have two minor children together. So, it is unknown what the couple intends to do regarding whether they intend to send the two minor children to the same school and/or if they will continue to reside in the same area.

For more information on child custody, visitation or disposition of a community property asset, such as a home, contact and Orange County divorce lawyer for more information.

Actor Michael Douglas and his first wife Diandra finalized their Southern California divorce a decade ago, but she now insists their California family court settlement entitles her to half of his profits from a movie that hasn’t even been released yet. According to the New York Post, Diandra has filed suit in a New York court seeking half of the money Douglas will receive from “Wall Street 2”, a sequel to his 1987 Oscar-winner. The movie is scheduled to premier in September.

According to the celebrity website PopEater, Diandra’s claim is based on a clause in the couple’s California divorce settlement giving her half of the proceeds from work Douglas did during the couple’s marriage. Since Douglas plays the same character in the new movie that he did in the original, she is asserting that the forthcoming film fits the settlement’s definition of “residuals, merchandising and ancillary rights”.

According to the Post, Douglas’ lawyers have filed papers claiming that a “sequel” is not the same thing as a “spinoff”. Were the new film the latter, they say, she would have a case; but, they argue, it is the former – and that means she is not entitled to a cut. Douglas’ lawyers are also arguing that California family court is the proper venue for the suit since the couple were divorced in the state. Diandra’s attorneys say they filed in New York because that is where both of the ex-spouses now live.

Are you as sick and tired as I am about hearing Jake Pavelka and Vienna Girardi talk about their split? Ugh, these two are only after publicity, just like Heidi and Spencer, but not as bad (yet). Why would you want to broadcast the details of your relationship/split to the media if you did not have some ulterior motive? Imagine all the dirty laundry that would result had these two gotten married and divorced years later? At any rate, one issue that comes to mind after Jake and Vienna’s split is what happens to Vienna’s 2.72 carat Neil Lane engagement ring? According to reports, Neil Lane himself believes the ring will be returned to Warner Brothers.

From an Orange County Divorce lawyer’s perspective and in the event Jake and Vienna did get married and later divorced, the disposition of the engagement ring upon divorce would be different. An engagement ring given to the bride would ultimately become the separate property of the bride. Afterall, it is a gift. For the most part, any gifts given by one person to the other during marriage will be the recipient’s separate property, unless otherwise provided in writing. So, if the husband tries to allege that he should get the ring back, his grounds will likely be invalid unless he has a premarital agreement in place or something in writing stating that the engagement ring should be returned to him upon a divorce. With that said, as a general rule, the engagement ring should remain with the recipient unless the recipient deems it only fair to return it. .

For more information on how to dispose of assets during a Los Angeles County or Orange County Divorce, please contact a Costa Mesa family law attorney.

Last month I wrote about Justine Musk and her unusual approach to her pending California divorce from billionaire investor Elon Musk. Justine, a novelist who specializes in supernatural thrillers, had taken to blogging about her settlement negotiations with Elon. As I noted at the time, she was demanding stakes in two of his business ventures as well as $6 million in cash, the couple’s house, child support and alimony. There was speculation at the time that her demand for ten percent of Tesla Motors could complicate the company’s plans to go public later this year.

The good news for investors is that the company now says the Los Angeles divorce case will not “affect its plans to list its shares,” adding, according to the Reuter News Agency, that Tesla “does not rely on (Elon Musk) to provide further funding.” The news agency reports that in an SEC filing last week the company stated “we do not believe that Mr. Musk’s personal financial situation has any impact on us.”

The week’s other Musk headline, however, concerns Elon’s ‘personal financial situation’: the billionaire co-founder of PayPal now claims to be having money problems. According to the Silicon Valley Business Journal, Elon Musk recently said “in legal filings that he has been getting by ‘on personal loans from friends since October 2009 and spending $200,000 a month while making far less.'” The Business Journal, citing the blog Venturebeat, says Elon contended in a February court filing that has now come to light, that he has “run out of cash.”

Blogging about other people’s Southern California divorces is one thing, but your own? While it is still being adjudicated? Say what you will, author Justine Musk is taking an unusual approach to negotiating her Los Angeles County divorce settlement. The real negotiating is, of course, taking place behind closed doors involving Southern California divorce lawyers. Musk, however, has used her blog to lay down a marker about what she wants and to defend it in public. The case of Musk and her husband, billionaire investor Elon Musk, is especially interesting because, as Reuters reports, Justine’s demand for a stake in Elon’s latest venture – the Tesla electric car company – may complicate plans for the company to go public.

According to LA Observed the couple have been married eight years and have five children. Elon Musk is a co-founder of PayPal. Justine Musk is a successful novelist, specializing in supernatural thrillers. LA Observed, quoting her blog, says she is demanding a 10 percent stake in Tesla, as well as five percent of another Musk venture, Space X. She also wants $6 million in cash, the couple’s house, child support and alimony… and a Tesla Motors Roadster (retail price: $109,000).

Reuters reports that Justine Musk’s demand for a stake in Tesla Motors as part of her California divorce settlement “could complicate plans… to take the company public and retain $465 million in U.S. government funding to launch a mass-market electric car named Model S.” The news agency reports that lawyers for both spouses did not return calls seeking comment.

Today, I read a report concerning two elderly Connecticut sisters squabbling over lottery winnings won by one of the sisters, Rose Bakaysa, and another brother. Turns out that Bakaysa and her brother won a $500,000 lottery jackpot back in 2005. Younger sister, Theresa Sokaitis, claims that Bakaysa violated a notarized contract they signed almost a decade earlier to split all future winnings. However, Bakaysa claims the two broke off the deal during a 2004 fight over a few hundred dollars. Sokaitis acknowledged the rift but believed that contract was still in place. You can read more about the story here. A New Britain Superior Court Judge is expected to issue her ruling in the next few months.

From an Orange County divorce attorney perspective, this report got me thinking about the effect of one spouse concealing lottery winnings from the other spouse during a divorce proceeding. Back in 2001, a Los Angeles County trial court ruled in a dissolution proceeding that lottery winnings concealed by wife during the proceedings to her ex-husband, constituted fraud. Marriage of Rossi, 90 Cal.App. 4th (2001).

The Court of Appeal affirmed said ruling. The court found that the funds used to purchase the lotto ticket were from a community property source and that wife’s claim that same was a gift was not credible. The trial court found that wife intentionally failed to disclose her lottery winnings in the marital settlement agreement, the judgement and in her declaration of disclosure. She also intentionally consulted with a lottery commission as to how she could deprive her hsuband of a share of the prize, used her mother’s address for all communications with the lottery officials and did not disclose samd throughout the divorce.
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Several celebrity news websites are reporting that a settlement has been reached in the California divorce of Playboy founder Hugh Hefner, which is expected to become final next month.

The relationship between Hefner, 83, and his wife Kimberly has, according to media reports, been an unusual one. The couple married in 1989 and separated in 1998, but only filed for a California divorce last year. In the interim Kimberly has been living with the couple’s children in a house adjacent to the Playboy Mansion and Hefner has been paying her a monthly allowance.

Divorce settlements involving high-asset couples – especially couples in which one partner brings most of the assets into the marriage – can be especially complex. California prenuptial agreements were created, in part, to address situations like this. The Hefner settlement may also have been complicated by the unusual living arrangements the couple have had for more than a decade. Further complicating matters is a lawsuit Kimberly filed last year against the ageing publisher, demanding

One tedious aspect of going through a divorce is dividing up various community property furniture and furnishings. From an Orange County divorce attorney perspective, when completing a Schedule of Assets & Debts (which is required prior to getting a divorce), each party must itemize their respective assets and debts, whether they are separate property or community property. I often advise clients to not bother listing every single fork, knife, table, lamp etc. as the list of furniture, furnishings, artwork, jewelry can get pretty long. Instead, I advise my clients to simply list the items that are have value and leave the remaining items as “to be divided between the parties.” However, sometimes couples cannot agree to divide anything amongst themselves. Afterall, these people are going through a divorce and the word “agree” has seemed to have disappeared from their vocabulary. At any rate, in such instances, there are alternate procedures to make such divisions equitable.
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