Charlie Sheen and his estranged wife Brooke Mueller filed competing Los Angeles divorce petitions last week, according to a report in People magazine. The latest act in what has become a bit of a California family law soap opera raises questions about the status of the document the couple signed last summer. At the time, that document was widely described as a “divorce settlement,” but if last week’s reports concerning the petitions signed and filed by Sheen and Meuller are correct it is clear that matters between the couple are far from ‘settled’.
People reports that Southern California child custody remains a significant sticking point between the two. Sheen, has requested “joint physical and legal custody” of the couple’s 18-month-old twin boys. Mueller is seeking primary physical custody with only visitation rights for Sheen. According to CNN the boys have been living solely with their father since Christmas of last year, when a fight in an Aspen, Colorado hotel room landed Sheen in jail on domestic violence charges after Mueller claimed he threatened to kill her. According to CNN the felony assault charges “were reduced to a misdemeanor third-degree assault count in exchange for his guilty plea in August.” Under that plea agreement the time Sheen later spent in a California rehab center was counted as his sentence on the Colorado conviction.
Even though Sheen and Mueller appear to have reached terms for a California divorce settlement back in June these latest developments indicate that the terms of their break-up are far from settled. The fact that they waited nearly five months after signing last summer’s settlement before moving the case forward, and then wound up filing competing Los Angeles divorce petitions requesting significantly different child custody arrangements, indicates that a long, and potentially contentious, Southern California divorce proceeding may lie ahead of them. It is fair to ask whether the case will now be more difficult for both Sheen and Mueller because of their decision to wait so long before moving forward.
It is a basic principle of divorce law that nothing is final until a court issues a decree. This is something Los Angeles and Orange County divorce clients must always keep in mind while working with their divorce lawyer to craft a settlement. It can also be an important consideration in deciding when and how to move forward in LA or Orange County divorce court.
One of the most important services an experienced Los Angeles or Orange County divorce attorney can offer clients is advice on these and other nuanced aspects of California family law. Every couple’s situation is unique. That, ultimately, is why skilled professional legal representation is so important.