German-born supermodel Heidi Klum filed for divorce from her husband of almost seven years, British-born singer Seal, earlier this month in Los Angeles. The two had separated, seemingly amicably, in January, Seal filed a response to Klum's divorce petition a few days after receiving the papers, suggesting that a more contentious case could be in the works. Several issues could be in dispute, including division of property and custody of their four children.
Klum has been famous for her modeling work in the United States since the 1990's. She currently hosts the television show Project Runway. Seal's music career began in the late 1980's and took off in the early 1990's. He has won numerous awards, including four Grammys. The two began dating in 2004 and were married in May 2005.
Klum was pregnant with her first child when she and Seal began dating. Seal legally adopted the child, Helene "Leni" Klum, in 2009, and her last name was changed to Seal's legal last name, Samuel. They have three biological children: son Henry, born in 2005; son Johan, born in 2006; and daughter Lou, born in 2009.
The couple announced their separation in January 2012. They told People that they decided to separate "after much soul-searching." They described the process as "amicable," saying that they still loved one another but had "grown apart." It was not clear at the time if or when the two would formally divorce.
Klum filed a divorce petition in Los Angeles Superior Court on Friday, April 6, 2012. She cites "irreconcilable differences" as the grounds for divorce, and requests primary custody of the four children with visitation rights for Seal. The petition reportedly claimed that the couple has a post-nuptial agreement that determines property division and other issues.
Seal filed his own counterpetition for divorce on Tuesday, April 10, contradicting many of the claims in Klum's paperwork. Seal is requesting joint custody of the children. Despite Klum's claim of a post-nuptial agreement, Seal's court filing asks the court to assist in dividing "community and quasi-community assets." Klum's net worth is reportedly estimated at around $70 million, while Seal's is about $15 million. News sources now claim that "unnamed sources" say Seal has "rage issues." The divorce case clearly has the potential to be less-than-amicable.
The two major issues a court might have to address is the division of marital property and the custody and support arrangements for the children. In California, marital property, also known as community property, is generally defined as property acquired by a married couple during their marriage. This can include money obtained through wages, salary, or other compensation, and nearly anything purchased using that money. Both parties entered into the marriage, presumably, with rather large estates, so characterizing the marital property could be a challenge.
As for child custody, the court would have to consider the circumstances of each parent and the parent’s relationship with the children to determine what arrangement would be in the children’s best interests. This is a very vaguely-defined term. If one parent gets primary custody, the other parent will likely be ordered to pay child support.
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.
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