September 16, 2011

McCourts Battle Over Spousal Support

Posted in Spousal Support tagged at 11:24 am by demetriagraves

With the help of a judge, recently attorneys reached an agreement that called for Frank McCourt to continue paying his ex-wife Jamie $225,000 a month in spousal support pending a trial in November.  The McCourts appeared in a downtown Los Angeles courthouse in another episode of their divorce battle over ownership of the team.

Frank McCourt was paying an additional $412,159 a month for the mortgages of six luxurious homes and a condominium, but that money will now come from an account created after the sale of a home near the Playboy Mansion.

Frank McCourt filed a motion in July saying that he has paid his ex-wife roughly $7.7 million over the past year. He said the payments should be more in line with the $5 million he receives annually. However, his ex-wife contends that her ex-husband has enough to pay. She notes in a recent filing that her ex-husband has received more than $44 million into his bank accounts since June 2010.

As the battle continues in court, on the field and in the stands the Dodgers are suffering.
Attendance is slumping. In 2009, the Dodgers had the highest average attendance rate in the country. Just two years later they’ve dropped to 10th in their attendance rate – a 20 percent reduction.

The Dodgers filed for bankruptcy protection in Delaware last month, blaming a cash-flow crisis on Major League Baseball’s refusal to approve a multi-billion dollar TV deal McCourt was counting on to keep the franchise afloat. MLB assumed control of the club’s day-to-day operations in mid-April.

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May 28, 2010

California Spousal Support Laws

Posted in Spousal Support tagged at 10:52 am by demetriagraves

When mentioning spousal support, it’s not uncommon to find that many people don’t really understand how it works. So here’s a brief outline explaining the basics of spousal support. California spousal support is governed by California Family Code Section 4320. California courts have discretion in granting the amount and length of time of spousal support.

There are different types of Spousal Support and these are listed below:

  • Temporary – may be available during the divorce proceedings and does not effect the amount of spousal support granted in the final disposition.
  • Short-Term – the court will determine the length of spousal support payments based on the length of marriage. If the marriage was short (less than five years), the court may grant support for a short length of time.
  • Long-Term or Permanent – marriages lasting ten years or longer are considered lengthy under California law. The court has discretion to grant long-term or permanent support in these cases. California courts do not favor granting support indefinitely.

Individuals who have been married, but are getting divorced may seek spousal support during the divorce proceedings. Spousal support can be established in a prenuptial agreement, it can be mutually agreed upon by the parties and presented to the court during discovery, or if no agreement can be reached the court will consider the facts as presented and award it based on the financial status of each of the parties and the nature of the lifestyle enjoyed by the couple during the marriage.

California courts will consider the following in determining spousal support:

  • Whether the earning capacity of each party is sufficient to maintain the standard of living established during marriage, taking into account:
    • Skills of the supported party; job market; time and expenses to acquire education or training to develop those skills; and need for retraining or education to acquire other, more marketable skills or employment.
    • Whether the supported party’s earning capacity is impaired by periods of unemployment incurred during the marriage to devote time to domestic duties.
    • Whether the supported party contributed to an education, training, a career position, or a license by the supporting party.
    • Ability to pay spousal support, taking into account earning capacity, assets, and standard of living.
    • The needs of each party based on standard of living established during marriage.
    • Obligations and assets, including separate property, of each party.
    • Duration of the marriage.
    • Ability of the supported party to work considering the interests of dependent children.
    • Age and health of the parties.
    • Evidence of any history of domestic violence.
    • Tax consequences to each party.
    • Balance of hardships to each party.
    • Any other factors the court determines to be in the interest of justice.

Once the court determines the spousal support payment schedule and amount, the only thing that will result in consideration of a modification is change of circumstances. If one or both parties to the support agreement have a sudden shift in income, then the court has discretion to consider a modification. Since most spouses work, spousal support (if necessary at all), is usually for finite period of time and modest amount. Spousal support in California can continue for an indefinite period, and it may be increased or decreased if there is a change in either party’s circumstances.

California spousal support lasts for however long the court determines. There is a rule of thumb for marriages that last less than ten years that the spousal support will last for half as long as the marriage; however, the court may grant it for less or more time depending on the circumstances. Marriages that are longer than ten years are considered long-term. Also don’t forget that spousal support from a former spouse is taxable in the year it is received. Thus, you must claim it as income on your tax return.

If you are faced with the prospect of paying or receiving spousal support due to divorce, consult a family law attorney.  An attorney will advocate on your behalf, help you understand your rights and guide you through the process. I offer a free initial consultation where you can get your questions answered and receive the right advice and any help that you need.

April 15, 2010

Nas back in Court – Civil Contempt Charge Dismissed

Posted in Celebrity Divorce, Child Support, Spousal Support tagged , , at 6:17 pm by demetriagraves

The ongoing saga regarding the divorce of Nas and Kelis has a new chapter.  It may come as no surprise to some that Nas has been ordered to pay the backdated child and spousal support payments he owed.

According to reports, Nas says he’s focusing on music and his children after striking a deal to dismiss a civil contempt charge against him.

A Los Angeles judge dismissed the contempt allegation against the rapper recently after he paid nearly $50,000 in child support to his estranged wife Kelis.

Kelis’ attorney sought the contempt charge earlier this year after Nas fell $200,000 behind on child and spousal support payments. He was ordered in December to pay more than $51,000 a month to Kelis and their infant son.

The judge ordered that the rapper has to pay $47,249.42 in back child support and $40,454 in back spousal support. Nas’s wallet took an even bigger hit. He also has to keep payments of $10,000/month in spousal support coming until he pays off the $299,015.50 he owes Kelis. On top of that, he also must hand over $155,787.28 to cover her legal expenses and $48,549.83 for her accounting expenses.

It sounds like it’s time to cut another record Nas.

Both musicians have made statements to the media that they’re working on new music.

April 9, 2010

Winning Strategies of Dodger ‘Players’ in Million Dollar Divorce Case

Posted in Celebrity Divorce, Spousal Support tagged , at 6:01 pm by demetriagraves

Hard hitting Dodger Owners, Frank and Jamie McCourt, have begun the first inning of their divorce battle in the Los Angeles Court System and I’ve been asked to comment further on who has the winning strategy in regard to the million dollar settlement demands.

To determine this, one should look at how much is enough? The average American brings home around $2,500 a month, but Jamie McCourt, the estranged wife of Dodger owner Frank McCourt, is looking for much more than that. Frank McCourt has initially offered her $150,000 a month, to which she countered with $1,000,000 a month to pay for the lavish and debt-fueled lifestyle they each have become accustomed to. In addition to the divorce case, whose official proceedings just began in late March, is another case between the couple determining whether the rightful owner, or owners, of the Los Angeles Dodgers is both individuals. With stakes this high, it’s anyone’s guess as to who will win the case.

This is an extremely interesting topic, considering there is a huge difference between Temporary Spousal Support, which Jamie is requesting, and Permanent Support. The amount awarded in divorce proceedings can significantly increase for Temporary Spousal Support, given its brief nature. With Temporary Support, Commissioner Gordon has more discretion to consider not only the income of both Parties, but also the Standard of Living and the high wages of Frank which can change the normal scope of awarding spousal support. Jamie McCourt’s focus on the McCourts’ Standard of Living, which is luxurious to say the least, on Frank McCourt’s multimillion dollar income, and on the California Family Code Section 4320 Factors (generally reserved for trial) should help her case.

On the other hand, Frank McCourt’s team will counter that Jamie McCourt’s requests are unreasonable. Frank will argue, which his attorneys have pointed out, that Jamie is in ‘Fairy Tale Land’ and that their previous luxurious lifestyle does not support her request of 1 million dollars. The alleged continued use of private jets, luxury vacations, etc. by the McCourts does not help the situation! If Frank McCourt wants to paint a picture of his estranged wife’s unrealistic view of their Standard of Living, he has to tone down his current lifestyle to help his case.

As to which number, $150,000 or $1 million, would most likely prevail? It is important to note that the Parties have a very skilled Judicial Officer who will analyze every aspect of this case, and if the Parties cannot decide on a number, Commissioner Gordon will definitely decide for them. With disparate figures such as these, it’s anyone’s guess as to whether either Jamie or Frank McCourt will be able to strike a deal. Play ball!

April 8, 2010

Jon Gosselin sues Kate for Custody of 8

Posted in Celebrity Divorce, Child Support, Spousal Support tagged , , at 9:01 pm by demetriagraves

Jon Gosselin has sued ex-wife Kate for primary custody of their eight children. The former reality TV star also wants spousal support and has asked the Berks County Court  to review his child support obligation.

Jon’s new lawyer, former assistant U.S. Attorney, Anthony List, has previously accused Kate Gosselin of neglecting the children because she appears on ABC’s “Dancing with the Stars”. List has further accused Kate of being “an absentee Mom” a charge Kate’s attorney rejected as “patently false.”

List is planning to use Kate’s TV appearances as evidence that Kate isn’t spending quality time with the eight kids. List also thinks Jon isn’t getting a fair deal in the child support department, claiming “$20,000 a month is ridiculous.” In addition to primary custody, List says he’s considering asking the judge to reverse the support obligation and make Kate pay Jon. He did not specify the amount.

In court papers, Jon Gosselin says his ex-wife “abuses” her authority when it comes to scheduling visits with the kids. He also claims an arbitrator failed to require Kate to provide documentation of the children’s expenses.

The Gosselins appeared on the TLC reality show “Jon & Kate Plus 8” until their marriage fell apart last year. They divorced in December.

Kate’s attorney, Mark Momjian has commented that Jon Gosselin’s filing seeking primary custody of his eight children is “defective on a number of levels.”  Momjian is preparing a response to the filing.

Jon is asking that the Pennsylvania court, among other things, “set an appropriate custody schedule that is in the best interests of the children” and review the current child support agreement.

Jon filed the complaints just weeks after Kate’s first appearance on “Dancing with the Stars.”  Kate is returning to TV along with her eight children for a show titled “Kate Plus 8” and another series called “Twist of Kate.”

March 31, 2010

That Baseball Divorce…

Posted in Celebrity Divorce, Spousal Support tagged , at 4:53 pm by demetriagraves

Dodger’s owner Frank McCourt and his estranged wife Jamie are in a Los Angeles courtroom where a judge is considering Jamie’s request for $1 million in monthly support from her husband. It seems like the first pitches of the baseball season were thrown in that Los Angeles courtroom less than two miles from Dodger Stadium.

The divorce case of Dodgers owner Frank McCourt began recently with attorneys trading barbs and accusing the other side of greed — much as pitchers try to intimidate hitters by throwing brushback pitches right under their chin.

Sorrell Trope, an attorney for Frank McCourt, compared estranged wife Jamie McCourt with 18th-century French queen Marie Antoinette and it was further inferred that seeking $988,845 in monthly spousal support payments is akin to an “Alice in Wonderland” fantasy.

Dennis Wasser, one of Jamie McCourt’s lawyers, called Frank McCourt “a poor billionaire” and rejected an offer of $125,000 a month in support.

Wasser, a member of the Wasser, Cooperman & Carter firm of Los Angeles, said Frank McCourt pays $40,000 a month to live in a rented condominium and spent $30,000 to attend the Super Bowl on Feb. 7 in Miami. Wasser said Jamie McCourt is entitled to a similar lifestyle, and needs almost half the $988,845 to pay her share of mortgages on the couple’s seven homes.

Jamie McCourt wants to continue to relax at five-star hotels, jet-set around the world and eat at top restaurants. While most people can’t comprehend or even dream about that kind of opulence, she wants her first-class lifestyle back and believes it will take nearly $1 million a month to do so.

The spousal support hearing was a precursor to a trial that includes a fight over the ownership of the Dodgers, a team valued in legal documents submitted in the divorce case at $963 million as of May 2009.

Lawyers for the two sides are due back in court to discuss whether a trial in the divorce case — and, ultimately, control of Major League Baseball’s Dodgers — will be able to start as scheduled on May 24.

Frank McCourt, 56, claims he’s the sole owner of the team, based on documents the couple signed in 2004, the year they bought the franchise. Jamie McCourt, 56, a lawyer, says she should get 50 percent of the team and that she wasn’t aware those documents would affect her share of the Dodgers.

The couple separated in July after 30 years of marriage. Frank McCourt fired Jamie McCourt as the team’s chief executive officer on Oct. 21.

Commissioner Scott M. Gordon, who is hearing the case, has about three months to issue a ruling on the temporary support payments. He said yesterday that there have been tens of thousands of pages filed so far by the 10 lawyers involved in the case, delaying any ruling.

The hearings, in Los Angeles County Superior Court, are taking place less than a week before the baseball season starts.

January 12, 2010

Reeves Paternity Case Dismissed

Posted in Celebrity Paternity, Paternity, Spousal Support tagged , , at 1:35 am by demetriagraves

Just when we’d thought that we’d heard it all here’s another celebrity who has had to defend himself in court against a paternity claim.

A Canadian woman who claims Keanu Reeves is the father of her four children has had her case dismissed after a judge branded it “patently unbelievable.”

Karen Sala filed a suit against the actor and was seeking $3 million a month in spousal support going back to November 2006, and $150,000 a month in child support going back to June 1988. She is maintaining Reeves is the biological father of her four adult children.

She also alleged in an affidavit that Reeves agreed to take her to the Academy Awards and promised they would eventually marry.

Sala filed notice in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice family branch in May, asking for a declaration of parentage from the actor. According to reports, Sala has known Reeves since age nine, when he was seven, and briefly lived with his family as a teen after running away from home.
Reeves who grew up in Toronto said he doesn’t even know the 46 year old Sala. He took a DNA test which proved he is not related to any of the children, but Sala dragged the case back to court to contest the results. Sala also claims that the actor used hypnosis to tamper with the results of the DNA test that proved he was not the father of her grown-up children.
But Judge Fred Graham ruled in Reeves’ favor recently by throwing the case out, telling the court, “The applicant’s evidence is so incredible that it is not capable of acceptance by any reasonable trier of fact. A trial in this case would be a waste of limited judicial resources.

“It is evident that she (Sala) believes her allegations even though they are patently unbelievable to an objective observer.”

Sala was ordered to pay Reeves $15,000 for the legal bills the case has incurred.

December 28, 2009

Spousal Support Explained – Alimony 101

Posted in Spousal Support tagged at 6:57 pm by demetriagraves

Spousal support can be a touchy subject. The one responsible for paying normally does not know why they have to pay the support when they believe that the other person should be working. The one receiving the payments often feels that it is not enough, often feeling that they deserve more for pain and suffering.

Spousal support can be temporary or permanent. In the state of California, at the beginning of the case, temporary support may be issued. Permanent support is paid at the end of the case and is determined by a set of statutory issues. A spousal support award is not mandatory in dissolution or legal separation proceedings in California. Quite the contrary, courts have discretion (within statutory parameters) to deny spousal support altogether or to limit it in an amount and duration that reflects the ability of both parties to provide for their own needs.

It is crucial to ascertain the standard of living while married.  Below are the main factors that will be considered in California law [Ca Fam §§ 4320, 4330] in determining Spousal Support:

1. Ability to maintain marital standard of living in light of earning capacities: The extent to which the parties’ respective earning capacities are sufficient to maintain the standard of living established during the marriage.

2. Contributions to other spouse’s education, training, etc.: The extent to which the supported spouse contributed to the other spouse’s attainment of an education, training, career position or license. This may create a right of reimbursement for community contributions to one spouse’s education or training that “substantially enhances” the spouse’s earning capacity.

3. Supporting spouse’s ability to pay: The supporting spouse’s ability to pay spousal support, taking into account his or her earning capacity, earned and unearned income, assets, and standard of living. Note: A spousal support order must be consistent with the supporting spouse’s ability to pay as determined by his or her circumstances at the time of the support hearing–i.e., the obligor’s present (not past or future) circumstances (current income/cash flow, assets, earning capacity, etc.) control.

4. “Needs” in light of marital standard of living: The needs of each party based on the standard of living established during the marriage.  “Need” includes more than “bare necessities of life.” There is a well-established case law consensus that “need” must also be judged in terms of the parties’ station in life during marriage and before separation.

5. Parties’ assets and debts: The parties’ respective assets and obligations, including the separate property of each. Thus, a spouse’s separate estate (including assets allocated to each as a result of the community property division)–and the reasonable income potential therefrom–may require the “withholding” of support altogether or a termination of previously-awarded support.

6. Duration of marriage. The length of the parties’ marriage bears both on the “need” for support (whether it should be ordered) and on the amount and duration. The longer a spouse has been out of the job market on account of the marriage, the stronger the case for granting support; by the same token, a relatively short marriage can, depending on the other factors and the “totality of the circumstances,” offset alleged “need” and justify a lower level of support and/or a shorter support term.

7. Employability of custodial spouse vs. impact on children: The ability of the supported spouse to engage in gainful employment without interfering with the interests of dependent children in his or her custody. The law recognizes the overriding public policy concern for the welfare of the parties’ minor children. Theoretically, e.g., weighing all relevant circumstances, the needs of young children may justify indefinite spousal support to a custodial parent even after a relatively short marriage.

8. Age and health of the parties. On balance and after weighing all of the specific factors, age and health may warrant either an extension or withholding of support. Age and health considerations are also particularly relevant to the question of duration of support.

9. History of domestic violence: Documented evidence of any history of domestic violence between the parties, including, but not limited to, consideration of emotional distress resulting from domestic violence perpetrated against the supported party by the supporting party, and consideration of any history of violence against the supporting party by the supported party.

10. Tax consequences: The immediate and specific tax consequences of spousal support to each party (e.g., who pays the taxes, who gets the deduction, what effect on net income).

11. Relative hardships: “The balance of hardships to each party.” This factor seems to underscore the court’s obligation to consider and weigh all of the specific circumstances in determining the appropriate amount and duration of spousal support.

12. Goal of self-support: “The goal that the supported party shall be self-supporting within a reasonable period of time.” Except in marriages of long duration, a “reasonable period of time” in which to achieve the goal of self-support “generally shall be one-half the length of the marriage.”

13. Spousal abuse conviction (mandatory factor for support reduction/termination): The criminal conviction of an abusive spouse is a mandatory factor to be considered in making a reduction or termination of spousal support in accordance with certain laws.

14. Other “just and equitable” factors: “Any other factors the court determines are just and equitable.”  This final factor is a “catch-all,” clarifying the court’s authority to consider any other circumstances, although not expressly codified, bearing on the propriety of awarding support and, if so, its amount and duration.

California recognizes both pre and post nuptial agreements. Prenuptial agreements or premarital agreements become effective when the marriage is consummated. It states that whatever property belongs to which person and also states financial responsibility. It is a legally binding contract.

The premarital agreement protects any assets that a person has prior to entering the marriage. It allows the owner to maintain possession.

December 16, 2009

Crying ‘Poor’ Not Always a Good Divorce Strategy

Posted in Celebrity Divorce, Child Support, Divorce, Spousal Support tagged , , , at 12:46 am by demetriagraves

Nas and Kelis, Round 2

Just when Nas thought the dust was settling on his ongoing court battle with Kelis, he’s been ordered to pay out more money.

In the summer, rapper Nas was ordered to pay a hefty monthly payment of $44,000.00 to his estranged wife Kelis for child and spousal support, in the midst of their divorce. Now that a financial settlement has been reached in the divorce, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge David Cunningham III ordered the rapper (real name: Nasir Jones) to bump up his monthly child and spousal payments to $51,101. This totals more than $600,000 a year to his soon-to-be ex-wife Kelis and their infant son, Knight.

The decision came after a two-day hearing in which the judge determined that Nas made enough money in recent months to pay additional support. Though, both Nas and Kelis tried to portray themselves as broke.

Nas’ attorney, Mark Vincent Kaplan, said the judge made the right decision and that despite the payment increase Nas came out ahead in the decision because he will no longer have to pay the expenses on the former couple’s Los Angeles residence.

Kelis also reportedly testified that she has been having difficulty earning money because she is a new mother and doesn’t have a lot of job options outside of the music business. She told the court that Nas is slated to release two albums in 2010.

Kelis is back in the studio working on her next album. Apparently she received $175,000 for her recently announced recording contract with Interscope, although her attorney argued most of the money went to her former managers and she received only about $50,000.

Nas testified that he wanted overnight visitation rights with his son.  Kelis has sole custody for now. When Kelis’ very pregnant lawyer, Laura Wasser, had Nas take the stand, she grilled him about not paying his December child and spousal support in full. Nas thought he was paid up.

The judge has ordered that Nas pay $40,454 in spousal support and $10,647 in child support. If that weren’t enough, Nas must also pay Kelis’ lawyer fees, which total $46,022.

This should be incentive for Nas to stay up on his payments from this day forward. Nas  also owes his current manager up to $700,000 and owes millions to the Internal Revenue Service, according to testimony.

Both Kelis and her attorney should be thrilled with this ruling.

November 19, 2009

Shaquille O’Neal’s Wife Va’shaundya Files for Separation, Plans to Divorce

Posted in Celebrity Divorce, Child Support, Custody, Divorce, Spousal Support tagged , , , , , at 1:15 am by demetriagraves

Shaquille O’Neal’s wife Va’Shaundya (Shaunie) has filed legal papers in L.A., even though the couple lives in Florida. Shaunie pulled her kids out of school in Florida recently and they are with her now in L.A. Shaq’s people think the sudden flight across country to L.A. is all about the money.

Why would Shaunie go to the other side of the country to file in L.A.? In California and in Los Angeles, there is no residency requirement to file for Legal Separation.  And if she files for Legal Separation, which she can later amend to a dissolution (divorce) after she meets the residency requirements, she can also request spousal support, and child support, etc.

The petition says that although Shaunie is filing for legal separation, she intends to file for divorce. She states “irreconcilable differences” as the reason for separation. THIS IS BECAUSE SHE DOESN’T MEET THE REQUIREMENTS YET.

Shaunie claims in her papers to be a resident of L.A. since November 8, 2009.
The date of separation is listed as 11-9-09. The couple has 4 minor children (between 3 and 9 years old). Shaunie wants full legal and physical custody of all the kids.

Shaq and Shaunie tied the knot on December 26, 2002 a total of 6 years, 11 months marriage. Perhaps it’s a case of the seven year itch?

It is the second time there has been a separation filing between Shaq and Shaunie – the first time was in September 2007, when Shaq filed for divorce. A few months later, the couple decided to withdraw the filing and try to work through their differences. It appears that idea was short-lived.

Shaquille is a 15-time NBA all-star is currently in the midst of his first season with the Cleveland Cavaliers. He owns four NBA championship rings between his days with the Los Angeles Lakers and Miami Heat.