California Divorce Report: Actress Liberty Ross Files for Divorce from Director Rupert Sanders

February 7, 2013
By Thomas M. Huguenor on February 7, 2013 4:05 PM |

Rupert_Sanders,_2012.jpgActress and model Liberty Ross filed for divorce from her husband, director Rupert Sanders, in late January 2013 in Los Angeles. The couple was in the news last summer after the story broke of an "affair" between Sanders and Kristen Stewart, who was the lead actress in his first feature film. Neither spouse has made a public statement, so the role of the affair in the divorce is only speculation.

Ross reportedly filed a divorce petition in Los Angeles County Superior Court on January 25, 2013. She and Sanders have been married for nearly ten years, and have two children, ages eight and six. Both Ross and Sanders are British, and they moved to Los Angeles for his film career. Ross has had a successful career as a model, and has also acted in several films. She had a role in Sanders' first feature film, Snow White and the Huntsman. Ross pleaded irreconcilable differences in her divorce petition. She is seeking custody of the two children and spousal support. Sanders is reportedly asking for joint custody and shared attorney's fees.

Actress Kristen Stewart played the title role in Snow White. Sanders cast Ross in the role of Snow White's mother. A story appeared in July 2012, around the time of the film's theatrical release, that Sanders and Stewart had a "massive makeout session." Descriptions of the incident range from an "affair" to a "hook-up" or "fling," depending on who is describing it. By most accounts, it was a single incident as opposed to a lengthy relationship. Both Sanders and Stewart issued public apologies. A lengthy series of deconstructions of the "affair," as well as media examinations of Sanders' marriage to Ross and Stewart's relationship to then-boyfriend Robert Pattinson, ensued for much of the rest of the summer.

While many states still have multiple fault-based grounds for divorce, including adultery, California authorizes courts to grant divorces on only two grounds: “irreconcilable differences” and “incurable insanity.” “Irreconcilable differences” is by far the more common of the two, as it only requires proof that the spouses are no longer able to continue their marital relationship. It is the “no-fault” provision for divorce, and the mere fact that a spouse persists in seeking a divorce tends to be sufficient evidence of a breakdown in the marriage. “Incurable insanity” requires medical or psychiatric evidence, and the statute only allows divorce on this ground if a spouse was insane at the time the divorce petition was filed and until the divorce is granted.

The California Family Code gives broad discretion to courts to determine child custody, with the child’s “best interest” as the paramount concern. A court may consider factors affecting the parents’ relationship to one another, which could include past adultery, in making a child custody order. In determining spousal support, a court may take any history of domestic violence into account, but the statute does not mention other factors affecting the spouses’ relationship. Most of the factors involved in spousal support relate to each spouse’s current and future earning ability and needs.

Thomas Huguenor, a divorce attorney certified by the State of California, has represented people in San Diego finding their way through the California divorce process for over 35 years. Contact us today online or at (858) 458-9500 to schedule a free and confidential consultation.

More Blog Posts:

California Divorce Report: Child Custody Issues in the Divorce of Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes, San Diego Divorce Attorney Blog, July 12, 2012

California Divorce Report: San Diego Chargers Player Discusses His Divorce and Its Effect on Him, San Diego Divorce Attorney Blog, June 14, 2012

California Divorce Report: Irreconcilable Differences All Around, San Diego Divorce Attorney Blog, June 7, 2012

Photo credit: By Eva Rinaldi (Rupert Sanders) [CC-BY-SA-2.0], via Wikimedia Commons.