Tag: celebrity divorce

Depp Divorce and Extortion

The Johnny Depp defamation trial against his ex-wife, Amber Heard, took a turn towards divorce – and possibly extortion. According to sworn deposition testimony introduced in court, after filing for divorce Heard demanded Depp sign divorce papers and comply with her list of demands. Could a settlement letter be considered extortion?

Divorce extortion

On Strange Tides

Heard filed her petition two days after Depp’s mother passed away. At the trial, Heard’s lawyer reportedly said her client was afraid of Depp, but wanted to keep the matter private. Heard’s team was reported to have said they avoided arranging for Depp to be personally served with legal papers at one of his movie premieres.

Heard’s lawyer allegedly wrote:

“Amber wishes to work quickly towards a private and amicable resolution of all matters, but she will need Johnny’s immediate cooperation to do so.”

Heard then demanded Depp sign divorce papers and comply with a list of demands. Heard wanted him to allow her to use the black Range Rover in her possession and for him to make the payments, exclusive use and possession of three units owned by Depp in a Los Angeles building, that he continue to pay the bills, attorney fees forensic accountant fees.

A couple of days later, Heard filed for a restraining order against her then-husband claiming she was the victim of repeated domestic violence.

Florida Extortion and Divorce

I have written about divorce and extortion before. It is easy to cross the line from harmless threats to the crime of extortion. The fact remains that in Florida, it is a second-degree felony to threaten to expose another for the commission of any crime or offense for one’s own pecuniary advantage.

There are several examples of how this happens in divorce. One which comes to mind, is taxes. It is not uncommon for spouses to threaten to report the other spouse to the IRS for underpayment of taxes unless money is paid to keep the silence.

Another very common extortion technique in Florida is to issue a threat to report a spouse to immigration officials. One spouse will to use the threat of deportation unless money is paid in a settlement. This was more common during the previous administration when the country cracked down on illegal immigration.

Extortion also happens when signing settlement agreements. For example, spouses sometimes threaten that if the other spouse does not sign the settlement agreement, the other spouse will tell the children about infidelity, or something else to ruin what reputation the spouse has.

“Why Fight When You Can Negotiate?”

Capt Jack Sparrow

Depp is suing Heard for defamation arising from a 2018 Washington Post op-ed. The article, Depp alleges, insinuated he was the perpetrator; the Oscar-winning actor claims the column made him lose job opportunities.

The letter that Heard’s divorce lawyer sent to Depp’s divorce lawyer was reportedly seen online and mentioned physical injuries Depp allegedly inflicted on Heard and noted that there were many witnesses. It mentioned a domestic violence temporary restraining order, which Heard had not yet sought to keep the issue out of the media spotlight.

Heard’s lawyer reportedly asked Depp’s lawyer to let Heard live rent-free in their apartments while Depp continued to pay the mortgage and utilities in exchange for allegedly keeping their divorce out of the media spotlight. Depp was promoting “Alice in Wonderland” at the time of the couple’s separation. The letter then listed Heard’s demands, concluding:

“We are indeed hopeful that we can swiftly work out mutually acceptable short and long term solutions outside of the public eye.”

Amber Heard’s divorce lawyer’s letter was shown in court last week as evidence in the defamation trial. Depp himself testified in court over four days about their tumultuous relationship and break-up. By the time the divorce was finalized in early 2017, Depp was on the hook for more than $14 million, according to Edward White, Depp’s business manager, who also testified.

Heard pledged to split the $7 million between donations to the ACLU and a children’s hospital. But an ACLU executive who testified this week said it received only $1.3 million of the promised $3.5 million in her name, and that $500,000 of that money actually came from Elon Musk, who Heard dated following her breakup with Depp.

The Insider article is here.

 

Depp, Divorce, and Texts

It may be a defamation trial, but the Johnny Depp case against ex-wife Amber Heard looks more like their divorce. Graphic, revealing texts and scatological testimony are exactly the kinds of evidence you’d expect to see in a bitterly contested child custody case.

Text Divorce Depp

Heard on Court T.V.

Believe it or not, the couple settled their divorce out of court in 2017, with Depp paying his ex-wife $7m. Depp kept his real estate assets, including properties in Los Angeles, Paris and a private island in the Bahamas and 40 vehicles.

Then Depp, 58, sued Ms. Heard, 35, for defamation after she wrote an op-ed for The Washington Post referring to herself as a “public figure representing domestic abuse.”

After more than a year of legal sparring, Ms. Heard then countersued Mr. Depp, alleging that he defamed her when his former lawyer released statements saying her allegations of abuse were a hoax.

Many of Depp’s text messages are as colorful as Captain Jack Sparrow himself. In a message to a friend, Depp wrote that he hoped that Heard’s “rotting corpse is decomposing in the f***ing trunk of a Honda Civic.”

In 2015, texts sent to someone else—possibly Heard’s sister—Depp claimed that:

“I never ever want to lay eyes on that filthy whore Amber” and that he would “smack the ugly c**t around before I let her in.”

Depp denied in testimony that he had ever hit any woman. He also alleged that Heard had repeatedly attacked him, and had thrown a bottle at him, severing the tip of his middle finger.

Florida Texts and Divorce

I’ve written about the widespread use of texts, emails, social media and how they have increasingly become a party of family law cases.

While Depp has to authenticate his text messages to prove he wrote them, some exhibits are trustworthy, and don’t even require a witness to authenticate. The evidence code lists matters which a court must judicially notice, meaning a judge does not have discretion but to admit indisputable evidence.

The list is short and includes laws of the Congress and Florida Legislature; Florida statewide rules of court, rules of United States courts, and U.S. Supreme Court rules. Other parts of the evidence code include even more matters, but also provides judges leeway in deciding whether or not to take judicial notice. For example, the statute allows a court to take judicial notice of facts that are not subject to dispute because they are “generally known within the territorial jurisdiction of the court”, and facts that are not subject to dispute because they are “capable of accurate and ready determination by resort to sources whose accuracy cannot be questioned.”

Text messages have become a major source of evidence in modern divorce trials. People forget what they put in writing may be used against them later and are fair game in a divorce. The Depp case makes it easy to understand why.

“The worst pirate I ever heard of”

In his testimony, Depp denied he ever hit a woman. While he has alleged that Heard repeatedly attacked him, thrown a bottle at him and severed his middle finger, he testified that he would usually run away to a bedroom or a bathroom to get away from Heard when she was violent.

With very colorful text messages about his threats of violence, some are wondering why he filed a defamation case in the first place:

“Let’s drown her before we burn her!!!” Depp wrote to actor Paul Bettany in June 2013. “I will fuck her burnt corpse afterwards to make sure she’s dead.” “Yes I fucked up and went too far in our fight.” “It doesn’t say physical fight,” Depp said on the stand.

Heard’s lawyer Benjamin Rottenborn also played a video that Heard had recorded, in which Depp could be seen yelling, banging things, and pouring himself a giant glass of wine.

“I did assault a couple of cabinets but I did not touch Ms. Heard.”

Depp has to prove that Heard’s comments in the Washington Post damaged his reputation. That central legal question about defamation seems like a trivial sideshow to what everyone is seeing unfold in a Virginia courtroom.

The Variety article is here.

Social Media and Kanye’s Divorce

Anyone wanting to know whether your social media posts could be used as evidence in your divorce should be following recent news. You would learn that Kanye West’s social media posts would likely become probative exhibits in Kanye’s divorce and child custody case.

Social Media Divorce

Meta Divorce

Kardashian, 41, filed for divorce from West, 44, in February 2021 after seven years of marriage. The two share four children together.

Some news outlets have been reporting that West has been going after Kardashian’s new boyfriend, Pete Davidson, in a flurry of Instagram posts, which Kanye later tries to delete.

Kanye has also shared text messages from Kardashian on his account and speaks about their divorce on the social media app.

When it comes to the divorce proceedings, social media posts are “fair game” and can be used in custody battles. Kanye West’s rants about his divorce could hurt his arguments on any custody and other parenting issues since he is clearly willing to put his own needs to express his feelings over their best interests

Florida Social Media and Divorce

I’ve written about the widespread use of social media in society, and how that impacts family law cases – especially when it comes to authenticating documents in a divorce court.

Some exhibits are so trustworthy they don’t even require a witness to authenticate. Evidence Rule 201 lists matters which a court must judicially notice, meaning a judge does not have discretion but to admit indisputable evidence.

The list is short and includes laws of the Congress and Florida Legislature; Florida statewide rules of court, rules of United States courts, and U.S. Supreme Court rules.

Rule 202 includes even more matters, but also provides judges leeway in deciding whether or not to take judicial notice. For example, the statute allows a court to take judicial notice of facts that are not subject to dispute because they are “generally known within the territorial jurisdiction of the court”, and facts that are not subject to dispute because they are “capable of accurate and ready determination by resort to sources whose accuracy cannot be questioned.”

But with the widespread use of fake social media accounts, you have to start to wonder whether the genuineness assumption of evidence in family court still stands. Anyone can set up a fake Kanye Instagram account.

The increasing use of electronic evidence at trial, and the ease with which it is impersonated and manipulated, pressures us to bolster foundational evidence more than ever.

Ye

Divorce proceedings typically entail a decision on custody, although Kardashian and West have agreed on joint custody of their children to date. However, if there were to be a custody battle, social media posts that don’t foster a healthy parent-child relationship could affect a judge’s decision.

Some social media posts can reflect a parent’s failure to facilitate and encourage a
close and continuing parent-child relationship with the other parent and that can impact the court’s ultimate determination of shared parental responsibility and timesharing.

Criticizing the other parent’s parenting, disparaging on social media a parent’s new significant other, especially when children are old enough to access and read social media, does not help facilitate a close and continuing parent-child relationship.

If one parent is disparaging the other parent on social media, that could be used as proof that Kanye, for example, is not willing to facilitate a close relationship between the children and Ms. Kardashian when he is with the children.

For his part, West has addressed criticism from many that he was attempting to besmirch Kardashian by divulging private messages and maintained that he has owned up to the mistake and is learning to better manage his impulses.

“Thank everybody for supporting me,” West recently wrote. “I know sharing screen shots was jarring and came off as harassing Kim. I take accountability. I’m still learning in real time. I don’t have all the answers. To be good leader is to be a good listener.”

In a separate post, West, also known as “Ye,” shared a screenshot of a comment that read: “That’s what a real man does; fight for your family Ye.”

“THANK YOU GUYS FOR YOUR SUPPORT OF MY FAMILY,” West wrote for his 12.6 million followers. “MY FAMILY MEANS MORE TO ME THAN ANY OTHER ACCOMPLISHMENT IN LIFE.”

Kim could try asking the court for a gag order restricting both parties from airing their grievances publicly during the divorce, but free speech is valued in this country.

The FOX news article is here.

 

Divorced at First Sight

The recent announcement that Married at First Sight‘s Jose San Miguel Jr. and Rachel Gordillo are getting divorced will be a stark wakeup call for everyone who thought the T.V. game show was the perfect format for marital success.

Divorced at first sight

Marriage Experts and Surprise Divorces

As the show’s title suggests, Married at First Sight (MAFS) cast member couples meet and marry at first sight in what Lifetime refers to as an ‘extreme experiment.’

Selected cast members are paired up based on relationship experts. The experts, Dr. Pepper Schwartz, Dr. Viviana Coles, and Pastor Cal Roberson, meet with each of the show’s applicants individually. Their role? To determine if the cast members would be a good fit for the shows.

The process is expedited, as following their wedding day they immediately go on their honeymoon, move in together and ultimately decide if they want to stay together or divorce on what is called ‘decision day.’

The one thing you don’t have to second guess is the validity of the marriages on MAFS. It wouldn’t be surprising if the marriage ceremonies on MAFS were fake. But the weddings are legitimate, as are the divorces that follow for most of the matched couples.

Surprisingly, given three experts make the calls, the show has a 70 percent divorce rate with an overall success rate of 30 percent.

The Houston couple had shared glimpses of their journey while adapting to married life before they split. As last week came to a close, Pastor Cal had some sound advice for two strangers just trying to make a marriage work. It’s not easy, requires compromise and hard work. Consistent communication and the ability to be flexible,’ Jose had captioned a September 7 post.

In another snap with Dr. Viviana Coles he wrote ‘sometimes you need a little help from the experts when you marry a complete stranger.

Florida No Fault Divorce

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 to focus the trial on who did what to whom.

Florida abolished fault as grounds for filing a divorce. Gone are the days when you had to prove bad ratings, low Q-Score, adultery, or desertion.

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.

The big requirement for divorce: in order to obtain a dissolution of marriage judgment, one of the parties to the marriage must reside 6 months in the state before the filing of the petition.

Believe it or not, the residency requirement can be a major impediment to divorcing for many people. Almost all states require you to be a resident before you can file for divorce. However, the amount of time you have to reside there can vary from state to state.

Love on the Rocks

The Season 13 couple initially broke up several weeks after their decision day on the Lifetime series, but later got back together by the time the reunion filmed. They were making plans to move back in with each other before ultimately deciding to divorce a few weeks back.

“After much thought, we have decided that we are better off going our separate ways. The MAFS journey taught us a lot about ourselves and what we both need in a partner. We are grateful to all those who stood by us throughout the last 8 plus months.”

On Married at First Sight, after being paired by the show’s renowned relationship experts, they head out on a honeymoon, move in together, and finally, make a decision between happily ever after and divorce.

Jose documented he and Rachel’s journey on the show on his Instagram page over the past several months. In one September post, he shared a picture of him and his now-ex sitting down with Pastor Cal.

“As last week came to a close, Pastor Cal had some sound advice for two strangers just trying to make a marriage work,” he wrote in the caption. “It’s not easy, requires compromise and hard work. Consistent communication and the ability to be flexible. Science & Art.”

According to her official bio, Houston native Rachel was previously insecure about dating from her parents’ divorce, though her previous relationship helped change that.

In adulthood, she was insecure when it came to dating but this all changed with her last relationship,” the bio read. “Though the relationship ended, it restored her hopes of being in a loving marriage with the right man.”

Jose, meanwhile, grew up in a middle-class family in Pearland, Texas. “It was a struggle but his parents always made sure he was taken care of. Dating has been frustrating as Jose seems to consistently meet women not seeking anything long-term so he’s ready to be married and possibly have kids one day,” his bio said.

The People article is here.

Increase in Court Openings = Increase in Divorce

An increase in court openings are signaling an increase in divorce filings. Around the country divorce and family law courts are starting to re-open, and there has been a noticeable increase in the number of people filing for divorce and custody too. So it’s not just you, if that was what you are thinking. As we appear to be near the end of the pandemic shutdown, many couples are separating and seeking divorce.

Covid Divorce Court
Court Attire Post-Quarantine

Covid Divorce Court

According to figures from the Superior Court of California published in the New York Times, divorce filings are up significantly in Los Angeles over the last five months. And some lawyers and relationship experts say that divorce filings in New York and other states are also on the rise.

Of course, it’s difficult, if not impossible, to know whether the higher rates are because more people want to get divorced or because many courtrooms were closed during the pandemic, creating a backlog. Though New York keeps its divorce records sealed, attorneys have seen enough anecdotal evidence to know that divorces seem to be on the rise almost everywhere.

During the pandemic, many people were experiencing marital problems and putting off splitting up for practical reasons.

In some cases, couples were waiting for the vaccines to be approved and to gain more social and economic stability before leaving their marriages.

The same is probably true for Florida, where many divorce attorneys are anecdotally reporting evidence of new filings and new clients seeking consultations to discuss filing for divorce and custody.

Florida Divorce

Divorce rates have also increased because it is easier to get a divorce. Historically in Florida, in order to obtain a divorce one had to prove the existence of legal grounds such as adultery. This required additional expenses, making divorces more expensive and cumbersome than before.

I’ve written about fluctuating divorce rates before. Part of the problem with keeping track of divorce court filings in the U.S. is that, unlike in other countries, collecting divorce statistics in the United States is not consistent in all of the states.

Different states keep different statistics and within each state, individual counties within those states keep excellent records of finalized divorce in some cases but not in other counties. These varying statistics are an important source for measuring divorce rates, and they are not consistent.

Miami-Dade County, for instance, has excellent records of filing online. However, other counties in Florida and outside of Florida may not.

Additionally, different American states and the federal Census Bureau, have had a rocky history of collecting the data from across the country on divorce rates. One of the reasons for the discrepancy in keep statistics is because the federal government stopped providing financial support to the states for detailed state collection of data.

Divorce Cases Spreading

Two months ago, 2,704 married people responded to one recent survey regarding the effect on marriages from the reopenings after lockdowns. Among the survey’s questions was: “Since the reopening following the lockdowns of 2020/2021 and a significant return to normal from the changes of the Covid-19 pandemic, has your marriage relationship been impacted?”

21% of respondents answered that the pandemic had harmed their marriage, a 10% increase from a survey asking the same question the year before.

The rising number of divorces could reflect marital problems that had been hidden from view for much of the last year and half. Now that many people have been vaccinated, things are starting to normalize. That return to normalcy, or at least semi-normalcy, could mean that couples are finally completing divorces they were forced to delay.

Extramarital affairs, often times a trigger for filing for divorce, may be rising too. During the pandemic hotels and bars were shut down and there were few people traveling for business, so there was no place to go to have an affair.

Now that things are opening up again, it is to be expected that couples are getting divorced because they either caught a spouse having an affair, or they are having one themselves.

There’s a lot of angst out there, which is why many divorced people are now approaching new relationships by holding potential partners to a higher level of maturity and authenticity, and that starting from the dating level, will never again ‘settle’ for just anyone.”

The New York Times article is here.

 

Transformer: Marital Settlement Agreement

Actress Megan Fox and her estranged husband Brian Austin Green are transformers: changing from married to single after finalizing their marital settlement agreement. The settlement agreement should resolve all of the parenting and financial issues raised in their divorce.

marital settlement agreement

More Than Meets the Eye

Actress Megan Fox, 35, is one of the stars of the Transformers movie franchise. Her husband, David Austin Green, 48, is also an actor, best known for his portrayal of David Silver on the television series Beverly Hills, 90210

According to many reports, the couple did not have a prenuptial agreement before getting married. This means that, under California law, they will have to divide all of the community property they acquired during their decade-long marriage.

Details about the marital settlement agreement are murky. It is unclear whether either one of the parties will be paying alimony or child support, though the divorce documents refer to a settlement being agreed upon outside of court.

Regarding parenting, the couple agreed to share joint legal and physical custody of their three children, a highly contentious issue for many couples, but a demand which Fox requested when she initially filed for divorce in November 2020.

Fox will also get her legal last name changed back from Green. News reports indicate both Fox and Green have moved on. Fox has been in a highly publicized romance with Machine Gun Kelly since mid-2020, while Green has been dating “DWTS” pro Sharna Burgess.

Florida Marital Settlement Agreements

I’ve written about agreements before. Most family law cases are resolved by agreement, not by trial. A Marital Settlement Agreement is the method to resolving all of the issues, and is the final product of the negotiations.

A marital settlement agreement puts in writing all the aspects of the divorcing parties’ settlement. Topics covered in the Marital Settlement Agreement include the parenting plan and timesharing schedule, the division of the parties’ assets and liabilities (called “equitable distribution”), alimony, child support, payment of attorney’s fees and costs, and any other items to which the parties have agreed.

A marital settlement agreement entered into by the parties and ratified by a final judgment is a contract, subject to the laws of contract. The enforceability of contracts in Florida is a matter of importance in Florida public policy.

Marital Settlement Agreements in Florida are treated differently than prenuptial agreements. There’s a good reason for the difference in treatment, and it turns on the adequacy of the knowledge of the finances involved.

The adequacy of knowledge can be plausibly raised only when an agreement was reached by people in conditions of mutual trust and confidence and who are not dealing at arm’s length – such as when you are negotiating a prenuptial agreement.

But once you are involved in divorce proceedings in court, you are dealing at arm’s length and without the special fiduciary relationship of unestranged spouses. Questions about the adequacy of your knowledge of finances don’t really exist when you are in court and have the opportunity to take financial discovery.

Hope and Faith

The couple had a rollercoaster relationship from the start. After meeting on the set of “Hope & Faith” when Fox was just 18 in 2004, they were engaged and living together by 2006. In 2009, they made a “mutual decision” to end their engagement only to be re-engaged and married by the end of June 2010.

Four years and two kids into their marriage, Fox stated very publicly that there was no “intimacy whatsoever” with her husband during a red carpet interview. Fox has been in a new relationship with Machine Gun Kelly consisting of a  whirlwind of PDA’s and selfies.

Her soon to be ex-husband Green confirmed:

“I’ve never met him, but Megan and I have talked about him. They’re friends at this point, and from what she’s expressed, he’s a really nice, genuine guy, and I trust her judgment.”

The Fox News article is here.

 

Validity of Prenuptial Agreements

Courts which uphold the validity of prenuptial agreements have singer, Kelly Clarkson, singing a happy tune. A family court judge recently declared her prenup was valid. The ruling means Clarkson holds the reins to a $10.4 million Montana ranch where her former husband, Brandon Blackstock, has been living and refusing to leave.

Prenuptial Agreement

Stronger in the Treasure State

Singer, songwriter, and The Voice coach, Kelly Clarkson, gave her fans a sneak peek of her ranch in rural Montana, where she was sheltering-in-place with her family amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Earlier this year, before ruling on ownership of the ranch, the judge ruled that her music manager and ex-husband, Brandon Blackstock, would have to pay $81,000 per month for the upkeep for the Montana ranch where he was then residing.

Although court papers show that he is only making about $10,000 per month – a far cry from his ex’s $1.5 million monthly income – Clarkson was then paying him $150,000 in spousal support and another $45,000 in child support each month.

Recently the family court rejected Blackstock’s argument that the Montana ranch is marital property and should be shared equally by both exes, according to the Sept. 30 order obtained by E! News. Instead, the judge upheld their premarital agreement, and found that the Montana ranch was Clarkson’s non-marital property identified in the prenup.

The family judge’s ruling means Clarkson takes control of the ranch:

“The Court further finds that the Montana Ranch and the other two Montana properties are not titled in both of the Parties’ names either as joint tenants with right of survivorship or as tenants by the entireties, as required under the PMA to create marital property,” reads the decision. “The Court therefore rejects Respondent’s position that the Montana Ranch and other Montana properties are marital property owned 50/50 by the Parties.”

The situation appears to be complicated for the pair: While Clarkson owns the property, her ex-husband is the one living there.

Florida Prenuptial Agreements

I’ve written about prenuptial agreements before. Prenuptial agreements are not just for celebrity singers and songwriters, and they are about much more than just resolving expensive Montana ranches acquired during a marriage.

Any couple who brings any personal or business assets to their marriage can benefit from a prenuptial agreement. They are important to have in place before a couple starts investing in businesses, properties, and other investments.

But prenups are frequently challenged in court.

Florida has both case law and a statute to help lawyers, judges and the parties determine if a prenuptial agreement is enforceable. For example, Florida adopted the Uniform Premarital Agreement Act. The Act requires that all premarital agreements be in writing and signed by both parties. It is enforceable without consideration other than the marriage itself.

Couples wanting to sign one can enter into a premarital agreement with respect to their rights and obligations in any of their property, whenever and wherever acquired or located; their right to buy, sell, use, transfer, or otherwise manage and control their property and the disposition of their property if they separate, divorce, die, or any other event.

Prenuptial agreements may be challenged in court, as Kelly Clarkson’s former husband tried. When ruling on the validity of a prenup, Florida courts must consider things such as fraud, duress, coercion, in addition to the unfairness of the agreement, and whether there was any financial disclosure.

Mr. Know It All

In order to beef up his claim to marital property, after their separation, Blackstock made a “deliberate choice” to “change his life” and become a full-time rancher, according to an August filing obtained by E! News. At the time, he was “exclusively using” the Montana ranch as his “residence and business.”

Clarkson previously requested permission to sell the ranch because of the “financial burden” of maintaining a property that was only being used by her ex-husband. The costs of maintaining the ranch are $81,000 per month, the court determined.

However, the judge initially rejected her request to sell the Montana site. Blackstock was ordered to pay the hefty property fees beginning in April 2021. For her part, Clarkson was required to pay nearly $200,000 per month to Blackstock, a former music manager, in spousal and child support. He is responsible for “100% of the cost” of transporting their two children (River, 7, and Remington, 5) to and from Montana. He has a 25 percent custodial timeshare.

After the ruling on the prenuptial agreement, Clarkson now has the right to sell the Montana ranch as she is the one who purchased it, according to the report. The ex couple’s divorce has been ‘bifurcated’ meaning the end of the marriage has officially been declared and some financial issues were reserved on.

The NBC Chicago news article is here.

 

Custody Unconnected with Divorce

Skateboarder and actor, Bam Margera, whose filmography includes the “Jackass” film franchise, is learning his wife, Nicole Boyd, filed for custody of the couple’s son, but unconnected with divorce. If approved by the court, Boyd would be awarded full custody of their 3-year-old son, perhaps child support, but no divorce from her husband.

Custody Unconnected Divorce

Bam!

Brandon Cole “Bam” Margera is an American skateboarder, stunt performer, television personality, and filmmaker. He came to prominence in the early 2000s as one of the stars of the MTV reality stunt show “Jackass”. He also created the Jackass spin-off shows Viva La Bam and Bam’s Unholy Union and co-wrote and directed his films Haggard and Minghags.

On October 5, 2013, he married Nicole Boyd in Reykjavík, Iceland. On June 19, 2017, Margera announced that Boyd was pregnant with the couple’s first child. On September 7, 2017, it was announced that the child, a boy who was born on December 23, 2017.

Bam’s wife Nicole is 37 years old and hails from California. Like Bam, she also works in entertainment. According to Biographypedia, she worked as an actress and performed at PennHurst Asylum, which is one of the scariest haunted attractions in the US. In 2016, she also appeared on an episode of the TV series Togetherness.

According to media sources, Nicole Boyd filed pleadings last week in a Los Angeles Superior Court seeking full custody of their child. She’s willing to give Bam visitation, but only with a timesharing supervisor – whom he can select – but she must approve. Notably, Nicole only asked the court to resolve the issue of child custody. According to reports, she did not file a divorce petition to end their 8-year marriage.

The “Jackass” star has had an incredibly turbulent past couple years, which recently culminated with him suing Johnny Knoxville and several other members of the “Jackass” team for alleged “inhumane treatment.”

This came well after Bam got booted from the fourth installment of the film franchise for failing to stay clear of drugs and alcohol, escalating attacks on the “Jackass” crew and rants about suicide. Things got so bad, director Jeff Tremaine got a restraining order against him.

Parenting Plan Unconnected with Dissolution of Marriage

I’ve written about child custody before. Florida does not use the term “custody”. Instead, we have the parenting plan concept. For purposes of establishing a parenting plan, the best interest of the child is the primary consideration.

The best interests of the child are determined by evaluating all of the factors affecting the welfare and interests of the particular minor child and the circumstances of that family, including the mental and physical health of the parents. What about filing for divorce?

Florida provides for filing a petition for support and for a parenting plan unconnected with a dissolution of marriage. There may be several reasons why a couple may not want to petition for divorce, but do want to establish child support and a parenting plan. For example, they may not meet the requirements for dissolution of marriage, or their religion may prohibit divorce, or maybe they were divorced and never received a parenting plan in their original state or country.

Risky Business

Boyd’s bid for custody is just the latest legal battle that Bam has found himself entangled in within recent months. Back in June, Jackass 4 director Jeff Tremaine won a restraining order against Margera, a previous star of the MTV movie and TV franchise.

At the time, a judge granted the permanent restraining order for a period of three years. The restraining order is also applicable to Tremaine’s wife and two kids.

Tremaine, 55, filed for the restraining order against Margera after the former TV star allegedly sent him and his family death threats. In the documents obtained by PEOPLE, Tremaine included several screenshots of texts allegedly sent from Margera, including one in which he says he meant the threats against Tremaine’s children “from the bottom of my heart.”

In addition to threatening messages, Tremaine claimed that Margera called his colleague and said “that he has ‘powers as a wizard’ and ‘can create and strike lightning’ while speaking at times using numbers instead of English.”

Then, in August, Margera sued Johnny Knoxville and others for what he alleged was a wrongful firing from the upcoming film, Jackass Forever. Knoxville has not returned PEOPLE’s request for comment.

According to court documents obtained by PEOPLE, Margera sued Knoxville, directors Tremaine and Spike Jonze and Paramount Pictures alleging “inhumane, abusive and discriminatory treatment” of him.
The star was fired from the franchise last year after testing positive for Adderall, a supposed violation of his “wellness agreement,” which he signed with the film’s producers.

Margera, who has struggled with substance abuse and been in and out of rehab in the past, alleged in his lawsuit that Jonze, 51, Tremaine and Knoxville, 50, “accosted him and coerced him into signing a draconian ‘Wellness Agreement.'” If he didn’t, he claimed, they told him he would be cut from all future Jackass projects.

The Yahoo Entertainment article is here.

Social Media and the Kardashian Divorce

For singer Kanye West, keeping up with his Wife Kim Kardashian on social media during their divorce just became a little harder. Forget the pandemic, the real news is that Kanye unfollowed Kim on Instagram! Few realize that social media can play an important role in a divorce.

divorce social media

Gold Digger?

Kim and Kanye married in Florence, Italy on May 24, 2014. A source reported that the couple had been going to marriage counseling. However, after counseling, Kim filed for divorce this year. The couple likely has a prenup, given the money at stake and considering it’s Kardashian West’s third marriage. Additionally, their biggest assets may be separately owned and operated businesses.

Their divorce could get more complicated when it comes to their shared real estate assets — including their Calabasas mansion, with an estimated $30,000 bathroom sink.

Kanye may the wealthier of the pair, with his net worth tied up in Yeezy, with an estimated value of $1.26 billion. His shoe brand is known for sneakers that cost upwards of $200 a pair. Kim’s wealth is believed to be invested in KKW Beauty with an estimated value of $500 million.

Social Media and Divorce

I’ve written about the widespread use of social media in society, and how that impacts family law cases – especially when it comes to authenticating documents in a divorce court.

Some exhibits are so trustworthy they don’t even require a witness to authenticate. Evidence Rule 201 lists matters which a court must judicially notice, meaning a judge does not have discretion but to admit indisputable evidence.

The list is short and includes laws of the Congress and Florida Legislature; Florida statewide rules of court, rules of United States courts, and U.S. Supreme Court rules.

Rule 202 includes even more matters, but also provides judges leeway in deciding whether or not to take judicial notice. For example, the statute allows a court to take judicial notice of facts that are not subject to dispute because they are “generally known within the territorial jurisdiction of the court”, and facts that are not subject to dispute because they are “capable of accurate and ready determination by resort to sources whose accuracy cannot be questioned.”

But with the widespread use of fake social media accounts, you have to start to wonder whether the genuineness assumption of evidence in family court still stands. Anyone can set up a fake Kardashian Instagram account.

The increasing use of electronic evidence at trial, and the ease with which it is impersonated and manipulated, pressures us to bolster foundational evidence more than ever.

Stronger

Kanye previously unfollowed Kim and her sisters on Twitter in June. He confessed to being unfaithful during their seven-year union in a song:

 “Here I go actin’ too rich / Here I go with a new chick / And I know what the truth is / Still playin’ after two kids / It’s a lot to digest when your life always movin.”

Social media is the cause behind one in seven divorces. Social media can not only cause marriages to end — they can impact your divorce and weaken your case.

One of the first places your spouse’s divorce lawyer will look for evidence is online. Even seemingly harmless pictures or statements can have a legal impact later. When you are disputing child custody, what you post on Facebook can make you seem unfit.

It can be frustrating to know the latest legal motion in your divorce was the result of something you posted online. Although you don’t have to remove your social media presence during a divorce, caution in posting is advised.

While your divorce case is pending, limit your posting online. Be careful when discussing things with your soon to be Ex and their friends. Also, be careful of the kinds of photos you post online as they can hurt your custody case.

Kanye has had a complicated relationship with social media. In July 2020, he claimed on Twitter that he had been trying to divorce Kardashian after she “met with Meek [Mill]” nearly two years prior to discuss prison reform.

Kanye referred to Kim’s mother, Kris Jenner, as “Kris Jong-Un”.

Conversely, Kim is playing things well. She publicly supports Kanye after separating, defends him, and asked her fans to be kind to him as he has bipolar disorder.

“He is a brilliant but complicated person who on top of the pressures of being an artist and a black man, who experienced the painful loss of his mother, and has to deal with the pressure and isolation that is heightened by his bi-polar disorder. Those who are close with Kanye know his heart and understand his words do not align with his intentions.”

The Fox News article is here.

Equitable Distribution of Sports Memorabilia in Divorce

The Chicago Cubs’ Ben “Zorilla” Zobrist and his wife, singer Julianna Zobrist, are finally starting their divorce trial this week in Tennessee, and the equitable distribution of his sports memorabilia – jerseys, trophies, and rings – is taking center field.

Equitable Distribution Sports Memorabilia

Play Ball

On August 9th, proceedings will begin in the highly publicized divorce trial, and how the marital estate is to be distributed. For months, the duo’s fallout has captured national attention, with shocking details in the news.

Julianna wants an even split of all assets and primary custody of the children, with child support. But interestingly, she also wants an additional $4 million – essentially, the “amount of money he failed to preserve by abruptly and intentionally failing to satisfy his baseball contract.”

The return netted Ben $4.5m of his $12.5 million salary. In April, she was awarded $1.72m from the sale of the couple’s house in Chicago, as well as an additional $772,500 to “purchase a new home as her separate property.”

On the other hand, Ben alleges Julianna overspent from their marital estate— a court order limited her to spending $30,000 per month for living expenses due to exorbitant spending — he’s seeking 60% of the couple’s assets, and believes his sports memorabilia should not be part of the equitable distribution because it’s his separate property.

Worse, Ben argues Julianna’s motive in hiding her affair with their pastor/marriage counselor, was to trick him back into playing baseball so there would be more money for them to divide.

“One would be hard pressed to concoct a more deceitful, sinister, and otherwise inappropriate scheme than wife has devised in this divorce matter“

According to the Tribune, Ben estimates their marital estate is worth $24 million, while Julianna estimates it’s worth nearly $31 million

Florida Equitable Distribution

I have written about equitable distribution in Florida before. In a proceeding for dissolution of marriage, in addition to all other remedies available to a court to do equity between the parties, a court must set apart to each spouse that spouse’s non-marital assets and liabilities.

However, when distributing the marital assets between spouses, a family court must begin with the premise that the distribution should be equal, unless there is a justification for an unequal distribution based on all relevant factors.

In Florida, nonmarital assets include things such as assets acquired before the marriage; assets acquired separately by either party by will or by devise, income from nonmarital assets, and assets excluded as marital in a valid written agreement. Importantly for this baseball player’s divorce, non-marital assets would include sports memorabilia acquired separately by non-interspousal gift.

Foul Ball

The duo filed for divorce after Ben found out Julianna was cheating on him with their pastor Byron Yawn, who was also Ben’s business partner . . . and apparently their marriage counselor!

Ben filed a lawsuit claiming Yawn, who at the time was senior pastor and elder at Community Bible Church in Nashville, provided counseling to the couple before and during their marriage. He is seeking $6 million in damages from Yawn.

Julianna hired a sports memorabilia expert to assess the monetary value of many of the items Ben accumulated during his 14-year Major League Baseball career. The memorabilia includes uniforms, which were given to him by different teams, bats, balls and gloves, some of which were used in games, his World Series and All-Star Game rings, World Series trophies, and a 2016 World Series MVP Camaro gifted to him by General Motors.

The replica World Series trophies are valued at $2,000 each. The Camaro is valued at $30,000. Other items include gifts from teammates and friends such as a Roger Clemens-autographed baseball and a Ted Williams-signed bat.

The issue comes down to whether those items legally should be considered Ben’s “separate property” or part of the marital estate.

Zobrist does not consider sports memorabilia “marital assets” for a few reasons. First, he claims none of his contracts with major-league teams discussed baseball hats, gloves, jerseys, trophies or rings as being part of his compensation and because he has no intention of selling them or doing anything but keeping them as mementos for himself and his family.

He also argues that sports memorabilia are gifted keepsakes from other players during his baseball career. This is a customary practice in baseball and gifts are specifically set out as separate property under Tennessee code.

The Chicago Tribune article is here.