Tag: Adultery Divorce

Divorce Politics and Privacy

Connecticut State Senator Alex Kasser’s resignation is a very public reminder about the intersection of divorce, politics and privacy. The hard won seat for Democrats is now up for grabs by state Republicans in Greenwich.

Divorce Privacy Politics

Heartless in Hartford

Last week Connecticut state senator Kasser announced she is resigning, saying her ability to do her job has been harmed by a bitter divorce battle being waged by her husband, Seth Bergstein, a top Morgan Stanley executive. In her resignation statement posted on Medium, the Democrat from Greenwich wrote:

“Seth uses his powerful position at Morgan Stanley to enable his conduct, so I must work even harder to fight for my freedom.”

The stunning move comes two years after Kasser went public with her romantic relationship with a woman who had previously run her first Senate campaign and then briefly worked in her legislative office.

Kasser told her husband more than a decade ago told she is a lesbian, according to an op-ed she wrote in The Stamford Advocate newspaper last fall. Kasser, 54, charged on Tuesday that Bergstein “has tried to destroy” that same-sex partner, Nichola Samponaro, “with lies about our relationship and harassing court motions that mention her 56 times for no relevant reason — she had nothing to do with ending my marriage. I will not stay silent as a homophobic, entitled man attacks my partner.”

Bergstein, 55, is a senior managing director and head of global services at Morgan Stanley.

Florida Divorce Privacy

I’ve written on divorce privacy issues before. Divorce privacy is an issue that comes up a lot. Divorces in court are public events, and the filed records of court proceedings are public records available for public examination.

Both the public and the media can challenge any closure order by a divorce court. The closure of court proceedings or records should only really occur when it’s necessary to comply with established public policy, to protect trade secrets; or to protect children in a divorce among other reasons.

Florida also has new rules protecting sensitive data from public view. This includes protecting Social Security, Bank Account, Debit, and Credit Card Numbers because if those numbers are included in a document, they may become part of the public record.

If information is absolutely required, there is a rule with procedures for sealing and unsealing of court records. Also, the Clerk of Court has the authority to redact or make confidential only specific information.

If sensitive information has already been filed in Court Records, you must complete and submit a “Notice of Confidential Information Within Court Filing” in order to remove or seal it.

Divorce Power Politics

It is difficult to know where the balance of power in a relationship is when a powerful state senator admits to CNBC she no longer has contact with her three children with Bergstein.

Kasser made a splash in 2018 when she became the first Democrat in nearly 90 years to win the 36th District Senate seat, which includes Greenwich and parts of Stamford and New Canaan. Her narrow victory helped Democrats end two years of splitting control of the state Senate with Republicans. Last November, she doubled her margin of victory to 2.6% to win reelection to another two-year term. Kasser said a special election would determine her successor.

“I can no longer live or work in Greenwich as it is loaded with memories of the 20 years I spent raising my children here. It is too painful to be in Greenwich now that I’ve been erased from their lives, just as their father promised would happen if I ever left him.”

The senator’s surprise announcement also comes as she prepares for her divorce trial, set to begin in September in Stamford Superior Court, where her lawyers have sought to depose three Morgan Stanley employees over what they have suggested were improper efforts by the investment bank to obtain personal financial information from her.

“It is with deep sadness that I announce my resignation as State Senator. Serving the residents of Connecticut’s 36th Senate district has been a profound honor and a great joy. However, due to personal circumstances, I cannot continue. For nearly three years, I’ve been trying to divorce Seth Bergstein. As all survivors of domestic abuse know, emancipating ourselves is an epic struggle that takes years, requires unflinching courage and all our resources — mental, physical, and financial.”

Bergstein did not immediately return a request for comment. But his matrimonial lawyer, Janet Battey, in an email response to CNBC said, “Ms. Kasser’s outrageous allegations and narrative couldn’t be further from the truth.”

“Ms. Kasser sadly continues to wage a public battle in the press while simultaneously dragging out the court proceedings,” Battey said. “Throughout the marriage, Ms. Kasser described Seth as a devoted father and patient and loving husband. Seth and his three children sought to keep this matter private, but Ms. Kasser continues to make blatantly false public statements in furtherance of her own agenda.”

“Mr. Bergstein trusts the legal system and family court and that the upcoming trial will reveal Ms. Kasser’s narrative for what it is.”

The CNBC article is here.

 

Bill Gates’s Divorce and Cheating

Bill Gates’s divorce and cheating is news again as more reports about him are emerging. Former employees are claiming they put up with inappropriate workplace behavior, romantic relationships with subordinates, and the demands of a boss who was painted as a nerdy tech savior.

Divorce Cheating

Blue Screen of Death

There was a time before his charitable works when Bill Gates was seen as the embodiment of corporate evil – and not just because of the blue screen of death when Windows 95 crashed. Simply typing “Bill Gates” into Ask Jeeves or Netscape on your Macintosh or Gateway 2000 desktop computer returned results like “antichrist”.

People cheered during the Microsoft antitrust case after Bill Gates himself was cross examined by attorney David Boies. But since then, Gates has embarked on a 20-year public relations effort to frame himself as a good-guy geek deeply excited by new technologies and leading the effort to fix the ills of the world.

He’s given away billions to fight malaria, climate change, world hunger. He led the effort to warn of a potential global pandemic and then, when his vision became reality and COVID-19 obliterated the global economy and killed millions, there he was at the forefront of vaccine research efforts.

In the wake of his divorce, however, it has become increasingly clear that there is a duality to Bill Gates. The stories about him have been largely suppressed by nondisclosure agreements to keep more damning details under wraps, a former employee said. “For such a long time you were told, ‘You have an NDA. You can’t talk,’” said the former employee, who signed such an agreement.

The current wave of reporting around Gates’s behavior encouraged this person to open up, but they are keenly aware that Gates has lawyers at the ready. “And these are not nice lawyers,” they added.

Florida Divorce and Cheating

I have written about divorce and cheating before. Adultery can be the cause of a divorce, but can it impact the outcome? There is still a statutory basis for infidelity to be an issue in your divorce proceedings, but not in the way most people think.

Adultery may impact the division of property. Florida is an equitable distribution state, and it is presumed that property should be evenly divided. This presumption may be overcome by proof that one spouse intentionally wasted marital assets.

This waste is sometimes known as dissipation. Paying for expensive jewelry, foreign trips, rent, car payments, and dinners for girlfriends and boyfriends is considered wasting marital assets. The court has the power to reduce an adulterer’s equitable distribution to credit the marital estate for waste.

Florida law specifically provides that a court may consider the adultery of either spouse in determining the amount of alimony, if any, to be awarded. However, courts have struggled to reconcile the “fault” of adultery with the concept of “no fault” divorce. The result is a mix of weak opinions.

Chapter 61 discusses the “the moral fitness of the parents” as one of the factors the court considers in determining the best interests of a child.

So, if one parent can prove that the other parent’s adultery had, or is reasonably likely to have, an adverse impact on the child, the judge can consider adultery in evaluating what’s in the best interest of the child. However, it would be extremely unusual for an issue to be decided on those grounds.

C:\>Defrag

Vanity Fair also reports that, like most tech company leaders, Gates was reported to be often impatient and demanding—behavior that was commonplace given the rapid speed of the industry. A former partner who worked directly with Gates at Microsoft explained that if a deadline was missed, the party responsible would answer directly to Gates.

The former employee who signed an NDA called him “unrelenting” and “condescending,” adding, “He would ask you a question, and when you answered, he’d look at you and go, ‘That is NOT the right answer.’”

For years there have been whispers about inappropriate extramarital relationships. None of it was entirely shocking, despite the seeming contrast with his public persona. Bill and Melinda’s relationship began as an office romance, with Bill as the boss and Melinda as the younger employee.

For the people who worked for him, Bill’s behavior was something of an open secret. The former employee who signed an NDA said there were times when Bill came into the office driving a Mercedes, and an hour later, one of his security personnel showed up with a golden brown Porsche that Bill drove away in.

 “We all assumed that it was when he was with women. I knew there were many offsite meetings that were not on his calendar.”

Yet another source close to Bill disputed that he would disappear from the office, saying he was “one of the most intensely scheduled people on the planet.”

It’s not clear how much Melinda knew about her husband’s behavior or these rumors, or how much they factored into her decision to file for divorce. People close to the couple said there had been tension for some time, that they had been living separate lives for years, and that the decision to separate had been delayed until their youngest daughter graduated from high school.

The Times reported that in 2018, Melinda was unhappy with how Bill dealt with a sexual harassment claim against his longtime money manager, insisting on bringing in outside investigators. And then in 2019, when the relationship between her husband and Jeffrey Epstein became public knowledge, she hired divorce lawyers, setting a plan into motion.

The Vanity Fair article is here.

 

Chris Rock and the Four Percent Rule

Chris Rock offers some interesting advice he learned from his famously bitter 2016 divorce. The comedian said there was one piece of wisdom his divorce lawyer shared that helped him get through the two-year legal battle with his ex-wife.

Rock Advice

The Four Percent Rule

Rock told Business Insider in a recent interview that his former divorce attorney, Robert Cohen, was a capable, intelligent, and realistic lawyer who helped the comedian see the bigger picture. The advice: That most of his divorce had already been resolved, and the most contentious parts composed a tiny fraction of what was at stake.

“Put it this way. People get divorced. People fight. Things take sometimes years. At the end of the day, you’re only talking 4%, one way or the other,” Rock said. “[Cohen] said that to me. I was like, ‘Oh, okay.’ And that put it in perspective.”

Divorce lawyer, Cohen, told Business Insider that his ‘4% rule’ holds up in most divorces he handles. He’s one of the most prominent divorce lawyers in the country, and has represented a number of other high-profile clients, including former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, the actors Uma Thurman and James Gandolfini, both of Donald Trump’s ex-wives, Ivana Trump and Marla Maples, and most recently, Belinda Gates.

“At the end of the day, the differences are usually a small percentage. Both with respect to money, and with respect to custody issues,” Cohen said.

Florida Divorce

I’ve written about the Chris Rock’s divorce saga before. Whatever the reason for your marital problems, there are a few things that anyone looking into divorce for the first time needs to know to help them through the process.

Prioritize

Line up your priorities for life after the divorce. Is it finding a home? Is it retiring? Getting a job? Managing your special-needs child? Consider writing down your most important goals.

Consult

Even if you aren’t certain you need to hire an attorney, or filing for divorce at all, it is a good idea to meet with an expert in Florida’s divorce and family laws. Who better than someone certified by Florida as an expert in marital and family law? We offer free consultations, but even when there is a charge, it is well worth the fee to get accurate information.

Alternatives

Litigation is something to avoid. It’s time-consuming, contentious and expensive. The majority of divorces end up settling. There are many forms of alternative dispute resolution out there, including collaborative divorce, mediation, and informal settlement conferences.

Grown Ups

Rock’s turbulent divorce was highly publicized, and he’s since opened up about his flaws as a husband — in particular, his numerous infidelities. But he said Cohen remained cool-headed throughout the process, particularly when it came to disputes over child custody.

“I had some issues,” Rock said. “It’s like, when you’re a guy, some people don’t even think you want to see your kids. [Cohen] was very understanding about all of that.”

Rock opened up and admitted his divorce lawyer got him through a very tough time in Rock’s life. Then again, Chris Rock joked that fellow comedian John Mulaney, on a recent episode of “The Tonight Show With Jimmy Fallon” should hire Rock’s ex-wife’s lawyer instead: “You should get this guy — he’ll get you your money”

The Business Insider article is here.

Chris Rock – Orpheum Theatre Minneapolis 3/17 by Andy Witchger is licensed under CC BY 2.0

 

Ctrl+Alt+Del: Reasons for the Bill Gates Divorce

Ctrl+Alt+Del is not only how you end a Windows session or unfreeze a stuck screen, it just may be how to end a marriage. The Wall Street Journal is reporting on a possible new reason for the Bill Gates divorce, and the DOS command line is c:\Epstein.

Bill Gates Divorce

Start

We are learning the separation between Bill and Melinda Gates, announced on twitter last week, has actually been in the works for years. Ms. Gates consulted with divorce lawyers roughly two years before she filed for divorce from Mr. Gates, saying their marriage was “irretrievably broken,” according to people familiar with the matter and documents reviewed by The Wall Street Journal.

The 56-year-old philanthropist has been working with lawyers at several firms since at least 2019 to unwind the marriage of more than 25 years, according to these people and the documents. Last Monday, the billionaire couple announced they were ending their marriage. In a joint statement posted on Twitter, they said:

“we no longer believe we can grow together as a couple in this next phase of our lives.”

The couple hasn’t said what prompted the split. One source of concern for Ms. Gates was her husband’s dealings with convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, according to the people and a former employee of their charity, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Ms. Gates’s concerns about the relationship dated as far back as 2013, the former employee said.

According to the documents reviewed by the Journal, Ms. Gates and her advisers held a number of calls in October 2019 when the New York Times reported that Mr. Gates had met with Mr. Epstein on numerous occasions. Mr. Gates once stayed late into the night at Mr. Epstein’s Manhattan townhouse, the Times reported.

When asked about his relationship with Mr. Epstein in a September 2019 interview with The Wall Street Journal, Mr. Gates said:

“I met him. I didn’t have any business relationship or friendship with him.”

Bridgitt Arnold, a spokeswoman for Mr. Gates, said in 2019 that the software mogul and Mr. Epstein had met multiple times to discuss philanthropy.

Bill Gates regrets ever meeting with Epstein and recognizes it was an error in judgment to do so Ms. Arnold said at the time. Mr. Epstein died in jail in August 2019 awaiting trial on federal charges related to sex trafficking.

Florida Divorce

The official term for divorce in Florida is “dissolution of marriage”, and you don’t need fault as a ground for divorce. Florida abolished fault as a ground for divorce. So, if your spouse is either out logging too much computer time, or late night meetings at Jeffrey Epstein Manhattan apartment, you don’t need to allege those as grounds for divorce.

I’ve written about divorce reasons before. The no-fault concept in Florida means you no longer have to prove a reason for the divorce, like your spouse’s new friends. Instead, you just need to state under oath that your marriage is “irretrievably broken.”

Before the no-fault divorce era, people who wanted to get divorce either had to reach agreement in advance with the other spouse that the marriage was over or throw mud at each other and prove wrongdoing like collaboration or weakening the revolutionary spirit.

No-fault laws were the result of trying to change the way divorces played out in court. No fault laws have reduced the number of feuding couples who felt the need to resort to distorted facts, lies, and the need to focus the trial on who did what to whom.

Florida abolished fault as grounds for filing a divorce. The only ground you need to file for divorce in Florida is to prove your marriage is “irretrievably broken.” Additionally, the mental incapacity of one of the parties, where the party was adjudged incapacitated for the prior three year, is another avenue.

Shut Down or Restart?

The couple negotiated their divorce throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, the documents show. They have three children who are all now 18 years or older, the divorce filing shows. The youngest is a senior in high school.

Ms. Gates, a global advocate for women and girls, had told her husband she was uncomfortable with Mr. Epstein after the couple met him together in 2013, the former employee of the Gates Foundation said. Mr. Gates and some employees of the Gates Foundation continued a relationship with Mr. Epstein despite her concerns, this person said.

A spokeswoman for Mr. Gates, who is 65 years old, said Friday he stands by his 2019 statement to the Journal and declined to comment further. A spokeswoman for Ms. Gates didn’t respond to questions about her reasons for seeking a divorce.

In early 2020, Mr. and Ms. Gates surprised many people when they said they wouldn’t attend the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, an annual gathering of business and world leaders that the power couple had attended for years. A few months later, on March 13, Mr. Gates said he was resigning from the boards of Microsoft Corp. and Berkshire Hathaway Inc.

The Microsoft co-founder said he planned to focus more on his philanthropic efforts. By that time, the Gateses were already in discussions to divide their vast wealth, according to the people familiar with the matter and the documents. Legal teams from both sides were privately in discussions with a mediator to work out a separation, the documents show.

The May 3 divorce filing says the couple had agreed to a separation contract to divide their assets—a fortune estimated at $130 billion by Forbes. Their assets include a $131 million lakeside compound in Washington state called Xanadu 2.0, a rare Leonardo da Vinci notebook and investments in Microsoft and Four Seasons Hotels.

Last week, Mr. Gates’s investment firm transferred nearly $2.4 billion worth of public company shares to Ms. Gates, including stakes in car-dealership owner AutoNation Inc., a Mexican broadcaster and a Canadian railroad.

The Gateses have said they would give away most of their wealth and donated more than $36 billion to the Gates Foundation over the years. The couple said they planned to remain co-chairs at the foundation and jointly lead it after their divorce. “We continue to share a belief in that mission,” they said in their Twitter statement.

Ms. Gates signed her divorce petition in Washington, near the family home and the foundation’s headquarters, according to the filing. Mr. Gates signed the papers from California.

The Wall Street Journal article is here.

 

Good Causes of Divorce

In a never-ending series, we look at good causes of divorce. In this edition, a police detective from Pennsylvania filed for divorce from his wife after he noticed she was photographed with another man during the January 6th Capitol riot.

Causes of Divorce

Stopping the Steal

Jennifer — the wife of Detective Michael of a Pennsylvania township police department and part of the FBI Pittsburgh office’s Violent Crimes Task Force — is accused of taking part in the January 6 riots at the Capitol building.

Jennifer was charged with several crimes after the riot, including disorderly and disruptive conduct in a restricted building or grounds, and violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds, court documents show.

The FBI said in court documents filed last week that it identified Jennifer through her association with a man identified as Kenneth , and shared a photo of the two together that it said was obtained from Kenneth’s iPad.

The detective filed for divorce in February, records filed at the Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas show, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Florida No Fault Divorce

The official term for divorce in Florida is “dissolution of marriage”, and you don’t need fault as a ground for divorce. Florida abolished fault as a ground for divorce. So, whether your Wife is out in the streets demonstrating, or worse, demonstrating with another man, you don’t need to allege that as grounds for divorce.

I’ve written about divorce and infidelity issues before. The no-fault concept in Florida means you no longer have to prove a reason for the divorce, like your spouse’s political views. Instead, you just need to state under oath that your marriage is “irretrievably broken.”

Before the no-fault divorce era, people who wanted to get divorce either had to reach agreement in advance with the other spouse that the marriage was over, or throw mud at each other and prove wrongdoing like adultery or abuse.

No-fault laws were the result of trying to change the way divorces played out in court. No fault laws have reduced the number of feuding couples who felt the need to resort to distorted facts, lies, and the need to focus the trial on who did what to whom.

Florida abolished fault as grounds for filing a divorce. The only ground you need to file for divorce in Florida is to prove your marriage is “irretrievably broken.” Additionally, the mental incapacity of one of the parties, where the party was adjudged incapacitated for the prior three year, is another avenue.

No Collusion

He is not part of the investigation. Sean Frank, the chief of the township’s police department, said earlier this month that the detective had asked his wife not to go to the pro-Trump rally that preceded the riots.

The FBI said Jennifer was seen on restricted Capitol grounds, and inside the Capitol rotunda while wearing a red long-sleeve jersey bearing “Trump 20” on the back. It reviewed security-camera footage and police bodycam footage; court documents show.

The FBI said that it also looked at Facebook Messenger exchanges between Jennifer and Kenneth, where they discussed their plans to travel to Washington, DC, including renting a vehicle and a hotel.

She later told the FBI that she did not enter the Capitol building. But the FBI said that its evidence shows there is probable cause to believe that she was present inside the US Capitol on January 6, 2021, during the riot and related offenses that occurred at the US Capitol Building.

She said she had traveled to Washington on January 5 and returned the next day, court documents said. She said that she and Kenneth then fell out of touch — that she had travelled to the rally alone and stayed in a separate hotel from Kenneth — but that she saw him at the pro-Trump rally.

In its arrest affidavit, the FBI includes a photo that it says shows Jennifer wearing a camo-colored Trump hat while Kenneth is seen wearing a Q-Anon sweater and an American flag-themed balaclava around his face.

In late January, Kenneth was also charged in Pittsburgh federal court for knowingly entering or remaining in a restricted building; disorderly conduct impeding government business; disruptive conduct in the Capitol building; parading, demonstrating or picketing in the Capitol; and obstructing an official proceeding.

According to an FBI affidavit, Kenneth live-streamed video of himself on Facebook showing him and others inside the Capitol building. Facebook users who watched the live-stream contacted the FBI and identified Kenneth, it is alleged.

In the affidavit, photos alleged to be of Kenneth in Washington, DC show him wearing a black-hooded sweatshirt with an American flag patch on the arm, the letter ‘Q’ on one lapel, a ‘Don’t Tread On Me’ flag on another lapel, and a black Pittsburgh Pirates baseball cap.

Jennifer works as a web and graphic designer for a distributor of nuts in Western Pennsylvania, according to her LinkedIn bio. Michael’s boss, the Police Chief Sean, told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that Michael pleaded with his wife not to go to Washington, DC on January 6.

The Business Insider article is here.

 

Divorce and Cheating in Cabo

Cheating may be involved in the divorce between Dancing with the Stars‘ Gleb Savchenko and his estranged wife, Elena Samodanova after Samodanova was spotted kissing another man while vacationing in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.

Cheating Divorce

Dirty Dancing

The So You Think You Can Dance choreographer, 36, submitted documents to a Los Angeles courthouse on Tuesday, December 22, seeking a dissolution of marriage with minor children.

Samodanova also filed a request for mediation regarding child custody, visitation and child support. The estranged pair share two young daughters.

Court documents obtained state that “the court orders both parties to participate in mediation to discuss custody and/or visitation” and help form “a mutually agreeable parenting plan.” A hearing is scheduled for March 2021.

Samodanova and Savchenko announced that they were going their separate ways after 14-years of marriage. At the time, Dancing With the Stars fans wondered whether Savchenko had become more than friends with season 29 partner Chrishell Stause.

Both denied the rumors.

Florida Divorce and Cheating

I have written about divorce and cheating before. Adultery can be the cause of a divorce, but can it impact the outcome? There is still a statutory basis for infidelity to be an issue in your divorce proceedings, but not in the way most people think.

Adultery may impact the division of property. Florida is an equitable distribution state, and it is presumed that property should be evenly divided. This presumption may be overcome by proof that one spouse intentionally wasted marital assets.

This waste is sometimes known as dissipation. Paying for expensive jewelry, foreign trips, rent, car payments, and dinners for girlfriends and boyfriends is considered wasting marital assets. The court has the power to reduce an adulterer’s equitable distribution to credit the marital estate for waste.

Florida law specifically provides that a court may consider the adultery of either spouse in determining the amount of alimony, if any, to be awarded. However, courts have struggled to reconcile the “fault” of adultery with the concept of “no fault” divorce. The result is a mix of weak opinions.

Chapter 61 discusses the “the moral fitness of the parents” as one of the factors the court considers in determining the best interests of a child.

So, if one parent can prove that the other parent’s adultery had, or is reasonably likely to have, an adverse impact on the child, the judge can consider adultery in evaluating what’s in the best interest of the child. However, it would be extremely unusual for an issue to be decided on those grounds.

They danced the famous Merengue

In photos published by Page Six, Samodanova wears a black swimsuit and red cover up as she shares a kiss on the beach with a man identified as none other than Dancing with the Stars’ Vlad Kvartin!

“It is very convenient that hours after Elena was caught out kissing another man on a beach in Cabo that she has now decided to announce that she has filed for divorce.”

My relationship with Chrishell was and remains platonic. Our friendship during our season on DWTS was not the reason for our split. Elena and I have had longstanding issues in our marriage. This has been an ongoing situation between Elena and I paired with poor timing.

Amid the pair’s messy split, an insider reported that Savchenko’s first priority was providing for his children. “Gleb is such a hands-on dad and very protective of his kids,” the source said. “He is trying to handle everything in the best way possible to not give Elena any sort of leeway for the sake of their children.”

Earlier this month, the Celebs on the Farm star joined Stause and her new boyfriend on a romantic couple’s trip to Mexico. Savchenko was accompanied by new girlfriend Cassie Scerbo.

As they showed off their budding romance on social media, a source revealed that the duo “really enjoy each other’s company” and “are just starting to get to know each other.”

In a very moving social media post, sure to touch everyone’s hearts, Samodanova sadly remarked:

“I don’t know if Prince Charming exists anymore. It’s a fairy tale which I do not really believe anymore.”

The People article is here.

 

Fault and Extreme Cruelty in Divorce

The South Dakota Supreme Court weighs in on when a divorce can be issued on fault based grounds of extreme cruelty. A father in a divorce case was awarded custody of his children, attorneys’ fees and sanctions the hard way.

Divorce Extreme Cruelty

Bad Marriages in the Badlands

Rachel Evens and Tim Evens were married in 2005 and have four children. Tim owned and operated a carpet cleaning business, known as Tim Evens Carpet Care. Rachel began working for Tim’s carpet cleaning business and Tim gave her a 90% ownership interest.

Then things went bad.

Rachel obtained a domestic violence injunction based on allegations that Tim physically and sexually assaulted her. She removed the children from their schools in Rapid City and took them to Montana. But after an evidentiary, the court found her testimony was not credible and denied the injunction.

When Tim traveled 750 miles to get the children, Rachel prevented Tim’s departure by taking the keys to his vehicle and physically engaging him by pushing and pulling him inside of her house and in front of the children.

Rachel was represented by four different attorneys, each of whom quickly moved to withdraw

Rachel physically and mentally abused Tim, loudly accusing Tim of extramarital affairs at a restaurant, causing patrons to take notice. After dinner, Rachel told Tim she was going out to find a man to satisfy her, only to return later to taunt him by advising him she had succeeded in her effort.

Rachel falsely accused Tim of raping her, failing to pay taxes and hunting without a license, all of which the court determined were unsupported by the evidence

Tim commenced a divorce alleging irreconcilable differences or, in the alternative, extreme cruelty. Tim also requested primary physical custody of the children, equitable division of the parties’ assets, and child support

Florida Fault and Extreme Cruelty

I’ve written about no fault divorce before. No-fault laws are the result of trying to change the way divorces played out in court. In Florida no fault laws have reduced the number of feuding couples who felt the need to resort to distorted facts, lies, and the need to focus the trial on who did what to whom.

Unlike South Dakota, Florida abolished fault as grounds for filing a divorce. Gone are the days when you had to prove adultery, desertion or extreme cruelty.

The only ground you need to file for divorce in Florida is to prove your marriage is “irretrievably broken.” Additionally, the mental incapacity of one of the parties, where the party was adjudged incapacitated for the prior three year, is another avenue.

Supreme Court of the Black Hills

The Supreme Court of South Dakota found that the family judge had made detailed findings of fact and conclusions of law as part of its decision to grant Tim’s request for divorce on the grounds of extreme cruelty.

Specifically, the court found that Rachel had physically abused Tim, including hitting, slapping, and kneeing him, as well as spitting in his face. The court also found Rachel had mentally abused Tim by calling him several names, including “stupid, dumb” and a “prick of a man.”

Rachel also told Tim that she was going to find someone else to satisfy her while also accusing him of having extramarital affairs and leveling unsupported allegations that he had committed serious criminal misconduct.

The court credited testimony from several witnesses who relayed derogatory comments Rachel made about Tim to her family, the parties’ children, and their friends.

This behavior, the court found, had continued throughout the marriage with more frequent, escalating incidents over time. As a result, the court found that “Rachel’s conduct toward Tim during this marriage has caused Tim great pain, anxiety, stress, grievous mental and physical suffering and constitutes extreme cruelty.

The circuit court’s comprehensive custody analysis includes over 300 findings directed to determining the children’s best interests. These findings are supported by the record, and we conclude that the court did not abuse its discretion by granting primary custody to Tim.

The South Dakota Supreme Court opinion is here.

 

Da Vinci Code meets the Family Code: Setting Aside a Settlement Agreement

The Da Vinci Code meets the Family Code as popular author Dan Brown’s ex-wife has filed a claim to set aside their settlement agreement – after their divorce ended – and sued him for money damages. The inferno in New Hampshire will deal with fraudulent financial affidavits and other claims to set aside a marital settlement agreement.

Setting Aside Agreements

Deception Point

In a lawsuit filed this week, Blythe Brown is suing Dan Brown for misrepresenting the couple’s wealth in a sworn financial affidavit he signed as part of their divorce agreement, and for intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress.

Author Dan Brown, is a New Hampshire native. He is best known for his thriller novels, including the Robert Langdon novels Angels & Demons, The Da Vinci Code, The Lost Symbol, Inferno, and Origin. His novels are treasure hunts that usually take place over a period of 24 hours. They feature recurring themes of cryptography, art, and conspiracy theories.

Dan Brown’s books have been translated into 57 languages and, as of 2012, have sold over 200 million copies. Three of them, Angels & Demons, The Da Vinci Code, and Inferno, have been made into films.

He is being sued by his ex-wife, who now claims he engaged in “unlawful and egregious conduct” that amounted to a “proverbial life of lies” during the last several years of their marriage.

In the lawsuit filed in New Hampshire, Blythe Brown alleges that the 56-year-old author, to whom she was married from 1997 until last December, “secretly siphoned” off vast sums of money “to conduct sordid, extra-marital affairs” with women, including a Dutch horse trainer on whom he lavished extravagant gifts.

According to the former wife the lawsuit is about standing up for myself and asserting my self-worth. I have continually tried to absorb the shocking truth withheld during our divorce that Dan had been leading a double life for years during our marriage, all while coming home to me.

Florida Marital Settlement Agreements

I have written on the topic of agreements before. In Florida, different types of agreements are treated differently. A prenuptial agreement, for example would be covered under the Premarital Agreement Act.

An agreement reached, not before a marriage like a prenup, but after divorce case has already been filed, is treated with a different standard.

That’s because after a couple become involved in full-fledged litigation over divorce property and alimony rights, they are necessarily dealing at arm’s length and without any kind of special fiduciary relationship of un-estranged marital parties or single people.

In cases like the Brown case, which involved a stipulated settlement agreement made in the course of what was likely fierce divorce litigation, a former spouse challenging a litigated settlement agreement is limited to showing fraud, misrepresentation or coercion. Any kind of inquiry into the “unreasonableness” or “unfairness” of the settlement agreement to either party is usually not permitted.

Angels and Demons

Blythe also claimed credit for inspiring much of his work and coming up with the premise for “The Da Vinci Code.” She also alleged that Brown hid scores of future projects worth “millions” from her, including a television series as well as a children’s book due out in September.

The most explosive allegations, however, are the extramarital affairs. Describing Brown’s behavior as “unlawful and egregious,” Brown said she only learned about it after the pair divorced in 2019 after 21 years of marriage.

She accuses the best-selling author of secretly diverting funds to pay for gifts to an unnamed horse trainer, including several Friesian horses and financing for his lover’s horse training business. She alleges the “illegal behavior” took place in New Hampshire, Europe and the Caribbean.

“Dan has lived a proverbial life of lies for at least the past six years, seeming to be the epitome of a world-famous novelist leading a simple life in his home state of New Hampshire, while in reality he was something quite different,” the lawsuit claims.

For years, she alleges, that Dan has secretly removed substantial funds from his and Blythe’s hard-earned marital assets to conduct sordid, extra-marital affairs with women — one half his age — and to pursue a clandestine life.

Dan Brown, in a statement, said he was “stunned” by the allegations and called the complaint “written without regard for the truth.” He said he never misled his ex-wife on their finances during their divorce and that she ended up with half their holdings after they divorced.

“For reasons known only to her and possibly her lawyer, Blythe Brown has created through this suit a fictional and vindictive account of aspects of our marriage designed to hurt and embarrass me.”

Blythe Brown, a horse enthusiast who is involved in horse and carriage driving competitions, insisted she was only filing the lawsuit to stand up for herself and assert her “self-worth.”

In her lawsuit, Blythe Brown portrayed herself as inspiring Brown to give up songwriting after the pair met in 1990 and recognizing his “unlimited potential as a writer of fiction.” She also alleges she helped craft key themes and ideas for many of his books, “served as lead researcher, first-line editor, and critic, and was Dan’s literary partner in the fullest sense.”

“Indeed, Blythe and Dan formed a partnership in the literary world that was to last for nearly thirty years, taking them places that they could never have imagined,” according to the lawsuit, in which she seeks unspecified damages.

During a 2006 trial against the publisher of the “The Da Vinci Code,” the court heard how Blythe Brown was an essential contributor to his million-selling historical thriller.

Two authors unsuccessfully sued, claiming that Brown “appropriated the architecture” of their book in a high-profile London court case.

According to witness statements and court testimony, Blythe Brown led the massive research effort, supplied countless notes and suggestions and offered an invaluable “female perspective” for a book immersed in “the sacred feminine.”

In a statement, Dan Brown told the Globe he’s “stunned” that his ex-wife is “making false claims” and says he was fair and truthful in their divorce settlement. On the day that Blythe and I married, I never remotely thought that we eventually would grow so far apart.

The Boston Globe article is here.

 

Can Divorce Privacy Fly?

Singer R. Kelly no longer needs to wonder can divorce privacy fly in his case. We now know his legal name is Robert S. Kelly, and a lot of embarrassing information he wanted kept private. Although the files were initially sealed by the court in his divorce case, they have been opened to the public by an appellate court.

divorce privacy2

Surviving R. Kelly’s Divorce

In 2006, R. Kelly filed a petition to dissolve his marriage with wife Andrea. In June 2013, the family court entered an agreed order directing that the entire court file be sealed because of a “serious likelihood of the media culling through the record for the purpose of revealing painful, potentially scandalous, details.”

In 2019, radio station WBEZ and the Chicago Tribune filed a joint motion to access the sealed court files after a more than $160,000 in unpaid child support landed the singer in jail, and just three weeks after Kelly was jailed while gathering the cash to post bond on criminal sexual abuse charges tied to allegations by four women.

Kelly and his former wife have been battling over finances for more than a decade, with the embattled R&B singer and his reality TV star ex each claiming poverty at times, the unsealed divorce filings show.

Among other revelations, Kelly was repeatedly accused of falling behind on child support and he sought to reduce them, claiming he had seen a “steady decline in his popularity” due in part to his “age, drastic decline in record sales, increased album purchase prices …. and the overall economic downturn.”

In response, Andrea Kelly tried to have his child support payments increased, saying he had “gone to great extents” to hide his income and assets. She also noted in the filing that her pay from the reality TV show “Hollywood Exes” wasn’t sufficient to pay the bills.

Kelly’s attorneys revealed that the singer faced a tax liability of more than $7 million and that the mortgage on his house in suburban Olympia Fields — often mentioned as the site of his alleged improper sexual encounters with teenage girls — had been foreclosed.

As long-standing allegations of predatory sexual behavior against Kelly gained public attention, his former wife accused him of withholding payments as punishment for her speaking out about his alleged abuse. In turn, Kelly has said her public allegations have made it difficult for him to earn money.

Florida Divorce Privacy

I’ve written on divorce privacy issues before. Divorce privacy is an issue that comes up a lot. Divorces in generally, and court records themselves, are public events, and the filed records of court proceedings are public records available for public examination.

Both the public and the media can challenge any closure order by filing the appropriate motion in court. The closure of court proceedings or records should only occur when it’s necessary to comply with established public policy, to protect trade secrets; or to protect children in a divorce among other reasons.

In addition, Florida has new rules protecting sensitive data from public view. This includes protecting Social Security, Bank Account, Debit, and Credit Card Numbers because if those numbers are included in a document, they may become part of the public record.

If information is absolutely required, there is a rule with procedures for sealing and unsealing of court records. Also, the Clerk of Court has the authority to redact or make confidential only specific information.

If sensitive information has already been filed in Court Records, you must complete and submit a “Notice of Confidential Information Within Court Filing” in order to remove or seal it.

“When a Woman’s Fed Up”

Andrea hinted at the long legal tussle in comments for the Lifetime documentary series “Surviving R. Kelly,” which featured multiple women accusing Kelly of wrongdoing and amplified the wave of public backlash against the singer.

“People think that I’m living this great, lavish life, but they don’t understand,” she said. “… People just think oh, you know, she wants to come forward now because the checks stopped. … The checks have been over for a very long time.”

Originally, the family court order allowed public access “to the entire court file, including the redacted documents and noting the sealed documents” beginning on August 13, 2019.

But then the court clerk placed material in the public file that the court had ordered to be sealed and the court thereafter restricted further access in the best interest of the children.

WBEZ appealed and the appellate court reversed finding the right of the public to review court records is supported by constitutional guarantees and case law.

“Litigation is a public exercise; it consumes public resources. It follows that in all but the most extraordinary cases complaints must be public. Consequently, judicial proceedings in the United States are open to the public.

Access to judicial records is not absolute, and every court has supervisory power over its own records and files, so it may deny access at times. The party opposed to public access must establish both that there is a compelling interest favoring a closed file and that the protective order is drafted in the least restrictive manner possible.

One scenario in which a court may deny public access is where the court finds that a public hearing may be detrimental “to the child’s best interests.” In a dissolution of marriage case, the court may order the sealing of records of “any interview, report, investigation, or testimony.

Here, the appellate court found redacted documents that didn’t contain confidential information relating to the parties’ children’s medical care, nor otherwise support the court’s concern for the best interests of the children.

The documents also did not refer to a child of either party, and they didn’t provide sufficient information to identify any specific other child. At best, redaction merely protected R. Kelly from embarrassment, which is an impermissible basis to withhold material from the public.

In light of the strong public policy in favor of public disclosure of judicial proceedings, we therefore hold that the circuit court abused its discretion in redacting paragraphs 26-29 in the body of count II of the March 2014 motion, and the corresponding prayer for relief in count II.

The Reason article is here.

*Photo credit Andrew Steinmetz

 

Swinging into Divorce

There are many reasons why happy marriages are swinging into divorce. Some blame the coronavirus quarantine. Others can point to financial causes. But Silicon Valley actor Thomas Middleditch has found another reason: the swinging lifestyle.

Swinging into Divorce3

“Swinging Saved Our Marriage”

Actor Middleditch has excellent advice for any couple wanting to have a successful swinging and polyamorous marriage: Be open about your rules as a couple.

“Mollie and I have created our own rules, and compared to most of the people we’ve met who do this kind of (stuff), our rules are strict. It’s a perpetual state of management and communication, to the point where it’s like, ‘All right, we’ve got to stop. Chill.’ I’m gas, and she’s brakes. This is actually the premise for a comedy series we’re writing together.”

Thomas Middleditch told Playboy in September he and his wife Mollie are into the swinging lifestyle.

The “Godzilla: King of the Monsters” star told the magazine he’s been to some sex parties, “some weird parties that were very ‘Eyes Wide Shut,’ from which I walked away thinking, ‘I don’t need it, but I’m glad I saw that.'”

Mostly, he says, his first concern is his wife. “Anything that happens has to be run by the queen…I love my wife like I’ve never loved anyone before. With two people who feel that way about each other, how do you go down that road? It’s tough. Bring a therapist along for the ride.”

Citing “irreconcilable differences” Mollie Gates filed for divorce on May 28 after they separated on May 22. Mollie has requested spousal support. The couple do not have any children together.

Florida Grounds for Marriage

I have written about some of the various reasons why people divorce in the past: snoring, calling the bride “fat” at the wedding and others. In Florida, a divorce is called a “dissolution of marriage.” Florida abolished fault as a ground for dissolution of marriage. The only requirement to dissolve a marriage is for one of the parties to prove that the marriage is “irretrievably broken.”

Either spouse can file for the dissolution of marriage. Generally, you have to prove that your marriage exists, one of the spouse’s has been a Florida resident for six months immediately preceding the filing of the petition, and the marriage is irretrievably broken.

The reason for the irretrievable breakdown, however, may be considered under certain limited circumstances in the determination of alimony, equitable distribution of marital assets and debts, and the development of the parenting plan.

Every case is different, so results can differ from case to case. Outcomes in a divorce include, among other things, dividing the assets and debts, an award of alimony, determining the amount of child support, and parental responsibility and time-sharing schedules. There is no “one-size-fits-all” or “standard” dissolution of marriage in Florida.

But is that swinging lifestyle the cause of all of the marriage trauma?

Do all good things come to an end?

Ironically, the Silicon Valley actor’s split from his wife Mollie Gates comes just months after he revealed swinging had “saved their marriage”.

A source told People: “They still care deeply for each other and will move forward as friends.” Their split comes just months after Thomas delved into the couple’s sex life with Playboy magazine. The actor, 38, told the publication last September: “Only after I got married was, I like, ‘Mollie, I’m sorry, but we have to get non-traditional here.’”

While this may seem like a standard celebrity separation buried amid more important weekend matters, you may recall that Middleditch gave a widely circulated interview with Playboy in late 2019 about their relationship, where he revealed that he told Gates, shortly after their wedding, that he wanted a “nontraditional” and open marriage.

“To her credit, instead of saying ‘Fuck you, I’m out,’ she was like, ‘Let’s figure this out.’ To be honest, swinging has saved our marriage,” he said at the time. “We have different speeds, and we argue over it constantly, but it’s better than feeling unheard and alone and that you have to scurry in the shadows.” Middleditch also said that their experiences at sex parties is the “premise for a comedy series we’re writing together.”

Well, they may have found what the season finale looks like.

The Vulture article is here.