Articles Posted in Legal Separation

According to a recent note in the San Francisco Chronicle actors David Duchovny and Tea Leoni were able to see past their differences for at least one day, spending time together with their children recently despite the couple’s long-standing California separation and pending divorce.

Duchovny and Leoni “put their recent split aside to celebrate Independence Day together with their children” even though they “confirmed last week that they plan to end their marriage,” the paper reports. The couple have a 12-year-old daughter and a nine-year-old son.

The family outing may indicate that the estranged couple have managed to find some measure of accommodation with one another after initially splitting up when Duchovny admitted to his sex addction, then reconciling, and finally splitting again (this time, apparently, for good). The couple have been married since 1997, the paper reports. According to the Chronicle Duchovny and Leoni have not yet formally filed for divorce, despite their recent announcement that they intend to do so.

They were, until a few months ago, California’s First Couple: the immigrant body-builder who improbably rose to be, first, a movie star and then, even more improbably, governor. And his glamorous wife: a member of the Kennedy family and former correspondent for NBC News. As most of the state knows by now, however, the marriage of former governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and Maria Shriver is in trouble. The couple announced yesterday that they are separating after 25 years of marriage.

The Los Angeles separation comes just over four months after Schwarzenegger left office and follows a period during which, as the Los Angeles Times noted, it had become clear that Shriver and the former governor were leading increasingly separate lives. The newspaper called the California separation announcement “a split that marks the foundering of one of America’s most famous marriages.”

Only two of the couple’s four children are still minors (and one of those is a 17-year-old high school senior) according to the Times, so child custody and visitation issues are unlikely to figure heavily in whatever settlement agreement the couple may eventually reach. Unless a prenuptial agreement exists, however, the length of the marriage would entitle Shriver to a substantial share of the wealth from Schwarzenegger’s long film career.

Christina Aguilera is officially single again. As we noted in a February post, her Los Angeles divorce settlement was finalized earlier this year. California, however, requires a six-month period of separation before a marriage can be formally dissolved. Those six months were up last Friday.

The legal details of the pop diva’s California divorce differed in some key ways from what we are accustomed to seeing in celebrity cases. It is much more common (see: anything related to the McCourts) for waiting periods to become essentially irrelevant because California’s statutory waiting period comes and goes while the couple are still thrashing things out via their attorneys and in court.

In Aguilera’s case, “in papers filed on February 9, 2011, a Los Angeles Superior Court judge determined… April 15 as the day the couple would finally, and formally, go their separate ways,” according to a report by the TV network and web news service MSNBC.

It was reported today that Heidi Montag filed a Petition for legal separation at the Los Angeles Superior Court,.citing irreconcilable differences. I previously blogged the legal ramifications for filing for legal separation here.

TMZ.com incorrectly states that Montag’s filing for legal separation is that “[t]he legal significance of legal separation is that her earnings will become her separate property from the date of separation.” Although that statement is true, it does not distinguish the big difference between filing for divorce versus separation. When filing for divorce or legal separation, generally speaking, all property acquired after the date of separation is the separate property of the spouse who acquired same so long as they can trace the asset to a separate property source. Most people file for legal separation for medical insurance purposes or residency purposes, just to name a few.

It is also interesting to note that Montag listed the date of the filing, June 8, 2010, as her date of separation. I’ve read many gossip magazines and internet sites alluding to the fact that Heidi Montag and Spencer Pratt were having marital problems in the past. If that’s the case, perhaps June 8 is not an appropriate date of separation. But, that’s another issue.

Following-up a story I blogged about last month, basketball superstar Shaquille O’Neal is reportedly trying to get his California divorce proceedings moved to Florida.

As I noted in a November 17 post, Shaq’s wife Va’shaundya reportedly flew to California from their home in Florida only days before filing California legal separation papers in Los Angeles family court. The widespread assumption has been that Va’shaundya was seeking to establish California residency in an effort to obtain a more favorable divorce settlement. According to The Cleveland Leader (Shaq plays for the NBA’s Cleveland Cavaliers), Shaq has now filed California court papers of his own arguing that the couple live in Florida and that the case should be thrown out.

As a rule, a person seeking a California divorce must have been resident in the state for six months. Because Va’shaundya is seeking a California legal separation, however, that requirement does not apply.

The filing of a Petition for Legal Separation by Shaquille O’Neal’s wife within a day of landing in Los Angeles got me thinking more about the residency requirements for California. If a party wants to file for dissolution of marriage, at least one of the parties must be a resident of California for 6 months and a resident of the county in which the petition was filed for three months immediately before the filing of the petition. Family Code Section 2320. This residency requirement is mandatory and it cannot be circumvented.
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Word that basketball star Shaquille O’Neal’s wife Va’shaundya filed Los Angeles family court papers seeking a California legal separation last week may have come as a bit of a surprise. Most people thought the O’Neals lived in Florida (Shaq played with the NBA’s Miami Heat from 2004-2008, but now plays for Cleveland).

According to a report in People magazine, Va’shaundya flew to California and declared herself a resident of the state on November 8, a day before her lawyers filed the California legal separation papers in Los Angeles family court. California’s community property divorce laws are significantly more generous than those of Florida. Further complicating matters, the couple is widely reported to have a prenuptial agreement.

As is so often the case with celebrity family law the numbers may differ from those the rest of us deal with (Shaq reportedly makes $21 million per season playing basketball and as much or more from product endorsements), but the concepts at issue are really little different.