Yet another Hollywood love story is coming to an end with the news last month that comedian Russell Brand filed for divorce from singer Katy Perry. The couple had gotten married just over a year earlier, in a traditional Hindu ceremony in Rajasthan, India on October 23, 2010. Brand filed for divorce on December 30, 2011, citing irreconcilable differences.
The news of their split first brought on speculation about the division of property, since Brand reportedly refused to sign a prenuptial agreement. With no prenup, they could end up with a straight 50/50 split of the marital estate. Perry likely has the bigger fortune of the two, meaning that Brand may end up collecting a large share of her assets, something of a reversal of the stereotypical situation in high-profile divorces. She reportedly made about $45 million during their fourteen months of marriage from touring and endorsements. Brand, meanwhile, made somewhere between $6 million and $8 million during that time. This is no small sum, but it pales by comparison. They also own a Los Angeles mansion valued at around $6.5 million.
Their split has brought up an interesting question not often seen in California divorces--at least, not in California divorces outside of Hollywood. Reports from their wedding indicated that Brand gave Perry an unusual gift, a female Bengal tiger named Machli who lived at Ranthambhore National Park, where they held their wedding. In the realm of extravagant wedding gifts, Machli is perhaps among the most unusual. This led some to wonder what would become of Machli in the divorce proceeding.
According to The Today Show, the couple never actually brought the tiger back to California. Instead, it remained in its habitat at the national park in India, which is partly a tiger preserve. The money Brand "paid" for Machli would go towards her care and conservation plans at the national park. Divorces occasionally bring up complicated questions about ownership or custody of pets, and those disputes can be as contentious as custody battles over children. In this case, however, the gift of the tiger was more symbolic than anything else. Since the tiger is not present in California, and it is unlikely that Brand or Perry ever obtained anything like legal title, it probably will not be part of any property division.
California, as a community property state, treats most property obtained during a marriage as the joint property of the marital community. One exception is property received as a gift by one spouse. Wedding gifts from one spouse to the other are often considered the property of the receiving spouse. If the tiger really was a gift from Brand to Perry, she would likely have the greater claim to it in the divorce, assuming she would want to claim it. As entertaining as the thought of Hollywood divorce lawyers squaring off over a tiger might be, this divorce case is not likely to be that interesting.
For more than 35 years, San Diego certified divorce lawyer Thomas Huguenor has represented people finding their way through the California divorce process. For a free and confidential consultation, contact him today online or at (858) 458-9500.
More Blog Posts:
The Kardashian/Humphries Wedding Saga Continues with a Divorce, San Diego Divorce Attorney Blog, November 11, 2011
California Divorce Report: When Is A Gift Not A Gift? San Diego Divorce Attorney Blog, September 12, 2011
Divorce California Style, San Diego Divorce Attorney Blog, May 31, 2011