Recently in Post Marital Agreement Category

April 19, 2012

California Divorce Report: Heidi Klum, Seal File for Divorce from One Another

Emmys-bennett-klum-sealGerman-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.

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January 8, 2011

California Divorce Report: Sean Penn "Lost Half"

Justia-photo-80 penn and wright.jpgThe purpose of a prenuptial (premarital, ante nuptial) agreement is to change the nature of the divorce laws of the state of California. California is a community property state. Generally this means that one-half of all income and property earned or acquired in a marriage belongs equally to each spouse. So, when the spouses divorce, each gets one-half of the property.

As a San Diego Certified Family Law Specialist attorney with a family law office in La Jolla, I am frequently asked to prepare a premarital agreement. Typically, a person is to marry in the next two to four months and they do not want the marriage to operate under the community property system. They may also want to include provisions as to spousal support. This takes us back to the recent news article regarding actor Sean Penn.

According to the article, (Mail Online) Mr. Penn told a reporter, "'I had just got taken for one half of everything I had in the divorce..." Mr. Penn was referring to his 2010 divorce from actor Robin Wright. Another article states that the community property estate was worth $123 million and that Sean "got taken" for $61 million. Possibly if your ex-wife just left the marriage with $61 million of money that you had earned during the marriage, you too would be bitter. However, this was so foreseeable; so predictable; so preventable.


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December 9, 2010

California Divorce Determines Property Ownership

Justia-photo-77 Dodgers.jpegIn a Los Angeles Times article, written by journalist Bill Shaikin on 12/7/2010, we learn that a California divorce court invalidated a post marital agreement whereby Frank McCourt claimed that his wife, Jamie McCourt, agreed that the Los Angeles Dodger baseball team was Frank's separate property. As a result of this decision, the Dodgers are the community property of both Frank and Jamie and must be equally divided as a result of the pending McCourt divorce. This is a significant blow to Frank and likely means that the team must be sold.

As a San Diego Certified Family Law Specialist attorney I have closely followed this case. This blog posted articles on this case in August and September 2010. We predicted the outcome that was reached by the court just in the last several days. After the first day of trial on the post marital contract issue, this blog directed a comment at Frank telling him that he had swung at the ball and missed and that "I just don't know if that was strike one, two or three." We stated that the trial was not going well for Frank after one day in court.

Later, the attorney who drafted the post marital contract appeared in this trial to testify as a witness. This blog posted an article regarding his testimony. The article stated that my professional opinion regarding the contract issue was now even stronger in favor of Jamie McCourt's position--that the contract was invalid therefore the team was the community property of the McCourt's. Typically, a post marital agreement seeks to change the characterization of property from community property to separate property (or visa versa).

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December 3, 2010

California Divorce Report: Jurisdiction Part II

Justia-photo-76 Eva Longoria.jpegOn November 17, 2010, Eva Jacqueline Longoria Parker filed a petition for divorce (see it here) against William Anthony Parker II in a California Superior Court. According to the petition, there are no children. Eva Longoria does not specify any community property or separate property. She does request spousal support however she also references a Marital Agreement signed in June 2007 and amended on June 10, 2009. Eva Longoria filed her petition for divorce in California; reportedly, Tony Parker subsequently filed a petition for divorce in Texas thereby raising the Jurisdiction issue.

"Jurisdiction" is a legal concept that resolves the question of which court has the exclusive authority and power to proceed in a legal case when the same parties have filed the same lawsuit in two or more courts. As a San Diego Certified Family Law Specialist attorney, my office is trained to implement the concepts of Jurisdiction and Venue into our cases. There just is not enough factual information disclosed in the reports as to this case whether the case will proceed in California or Texas. My educated guess is that California will prevail as to the jurisdiction issue and the case will proceed to a conclusion in California. From the news reports it appears that Parker's filing in Texas was a reactionary move to force Longoria into settlement negotiations. Texas is known to complete divorce cases faster than California and to have a more conservative perspective on issues such as Marital Agreements that limit support as well as the spousal support issue.

If settlement negotiations or divorce mediation does not result in a settlement of the divorce cases, look for Longoria to aggressively seek her share of Tony's multi-million dollar basketball money. Look for Tony Parker to move forward with hearings in Texas to rule that Texas holds the exclusive jurisdiction for this case. Look for the Marital Agreement to be entered into one of the courts as evidence either in support or against the spousal support claim.

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November 5, 2010

California Divorce News: Charlie Sheen's Wife is Angry

Justia-photo-69 Sheen and Brooke.jpgIs it true that La Jolla divorces are more civilized? As a Certified Family Law Specialist attorney with a law office is La Jolla I have found that some couples work very hard to control the emotions that may lead to a very time consuming divorce.

Isn't divorce in California no-fault based? What difference does it make that Charlie Sheen did the numerous things that are now appearing on Internet news stories? Probably not much in his California divorce case; however, he allegedly committed the biggest mistake--he didn't discuss the highly public divorce with his wife prior to filing.

We've all heard of the notification that the "marriage is off" by voice mail or by text message. What's now? Notice by Facebook? Twitter? My Space? According to the San Francisco Chronicle, Charlie Sheen's wife, Brooke Mueller, alleges that she was not consulted (notified) by Charlie that he was filing for a divorce, which the actor Sheen did in the last few days. Never mind that Charlie reportedly pleaded guilty to a criminal assault last summer. Or that just recently he reportedly trashed a New York City hotel room in an event that did not include his family. Afterwards, Charlie files for the divorce against Ms. Mueller. This is the ultimate proof that California is a no-fault divorce law state.

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September 27, 2010

San Diego Divorce Report of Contract Catastrophe

Justia-photo-63 gibberish.jpgA San Diego news article described how the McCourt pre marital contract is more convoluted than ever. The ongoing bifurcated trial (a trial on an issue separated out from the rest of the divorce case) as to the ownership of the LA Dodgers, resulted in the attorney who drafted the contract testifying that he changed the contract after the parties signed the contract. The LA Times also published an article authored by Bill Shaikin and Carla Hall on this topic that was helpful to this blog.

One of your first days in law school, learning about California contractual law, you learn that a "Contract" indicates a "meeting of the minds" resulting in an agreement between two (or more) parties. The contract may be verbal or written. Written is preferred so that the terms of the agreement are specified and ambiguities are eliminated. Many years after law school I am a Jolla divorce attorney who prepares and reads marital contracts on a regular basis.

In a California divorce, property must be identified, characterized, valued and disposed by division between the parties or by a sale to a third person. In the California divorce case of Jamie and Frank McCourt (owners of the LA Dodgers baseball team, six written contracts have been presented to the court to dispose of the ownership of the baseball team. These contracts, all written, signed and notarized, are post marital agreements (also known as "ante nuptial" or "post nuptial") The purpose of a post marital agreement is to make the court rulings as to property (and other issues) very quick and simple, not to mention low cost. However, the problem here is that three contracts provide that the team is Frank's separate property and three contracts provide that the team is community property. How could this have happened?


In an earlier blog on this topic (here) I wrote that the trial was not going well for Frank. This is just my opinion as a California Certified Family Law Specialist. This was after just the first day of the trial. My opinion is now stronger. There are two contracts, signed by both parties. One supports the conclusion that the team is community property. The one that makes the property Frank's separate property was changed by the drafting attorney, after the contract was signed (approved) without notice to either party that the change would be made. No "meeting of the minds" = no contract. I don't see how this will go well for Frank.

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September 2, 2010

California Post Marital Agreement--Or Not?

Justia-photo-58 Frank McCourt.jpgThis blog has posted several articles on the Jamie and Frank McCourt divorce and specifically the legal issue as to the validity of a post marital agreement signed by Mr. and Mrs. McCourt by which Frank McCourt claims sole ownership to the LA Dodgers baseball team. The trial is ongoing at this time as to this issue in a California divorce court. A LA Times article describes the second day in trial. To the surprise of many, Jamie McCourt had a great second day in this trial.
Meaning of post nuptial agreement: A "premarital" or "prenuptial" or "ante nuptial" agreement all mean the same thing--an agreement before the marriage. A "post marital" or "post nuptial" agreement is an agreement finalized after the marriage. These agreements are permitted under California law; however California limits what they can do. They can change the ownership of property; change property characterization; for example, community property to separate property or separate property to community property. They can provide for the amount and duration of spousal support. They cannot dictate child support or child custody. San Diego Certified Family Law Specialist attorneys frequently create and review premarital and post marital agreements.

The post marital agreement in the McCourt case transferred all ownership of the LA Dodgers to Frank and transferred the real estate to Jamie. Or did it? Frank has entered into evidence a signed post marital agreement that transfers the team to him. However, Jamie has now entered a signed agreement into evidence showing that Frank transferred all of the homes to Jamie and it does not mention the Dodgers. So, we have two signed agreements. Further, bank and loan documents indicate that the parties were acting co-owners to the team. Further, loan documents, signed by the parties showed that a loan was made to both of them as co-owners. Under California law, a loan creates funding and the money is either community property or separate property in character depending on how the loan was arranged.

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August 16, 2010

"Most Expensive" California Divorce Case

Justia-photo-52 Dodger Stadium.jpgAs a Certified Family Law Specialist attorney working in La Jolla California I've seen some high income and asset cases. However the California divorce between Jamie and Frank McCourt, owners of the Los Angeles Dodgers baseball team, is reportedly one of the most expensive divorces in California history. There is an excellent article in Bloomberg Business Week magazine, author Richard Siklos, August 12, 2010 providing in depth coverage of this case. This blog will reference some of the comments from the article and add information from a Family Law Specialist's viewpoint.

The McCourts, Frank and Jamie, came from a humble starting point. Pooling together money to buy a parking lot on the East Coast, they became rich over many years of marriage and hard work. They failed in an attempt to buy the Boston Red Sox, but bounced back when they were able to buy the LA Dodgers from Fox. However, their current, ongoing divorce has been called the most expensive California divorce ever. An estimated expense of $19 million and the case has not yet been through trial. If they go through a full trial (for example, on the value of the baseball team), and then the losing side appeals the decision, the current cost of the divorce is probably less than one-half of what they will end up spending.

Under California divorce law, the court can bifurcate, or separate out, a key issue to the divorce case, and have a trial on that issue first. This is likely what the McCourts are doing as they have a trial scheduled to start on August 30, 2010 as to the value of the Dodgers. Frank says the Dodgers are worth approximately $800 million today. Jamie estimates the value is at least $1.5 billion. Frank claims to have a Post Marital Agreement (or Marital Agreement) signed by Jamie where she has signed over the team to Frank. If this agreement holds up, Jamie receives nothing regardless of how much the Dodgers are worth.

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July 14, 2010

California Divorce Blunders -- Out of Court Statements

Justia-photo-40 smoking car.jpegElon Musk, co-founder of PayPal, CEO of Tesla automobile (battery powered sports car as fast as almost any gas guzzling street muscle car) reportedly released his own blog in response to several articles concerning his divorce; his representations about his income and personal matters. He specifically stated that he was responding to large newspaper editorials and articles about him; however he addressed points (almost point for point) of the last blog that this site published concerning his divorce. This blog will deal with his comments as to his income.

As a San Diego Certified Family Law Specialist let me start by saying I don't know if Mr. Musk is telling the truth as to his income. It is the function of a legal system to rule on the legal issues according to the evidence. If someone is found to lack credibility, then any or all of that person's statements may be discounted by the judge; however that is a part of ruling on the issues per the evidence. San Diego divorce lawyers gather evidence in support of their client's case.

Elon Musk and Mel Gibson made the news this week with their out of court comments. Mr. Musk intentionally made his statements to the world. Mr. Gibson, in this blog's opinion, is ill (in need of counseling and possibly rehab) and his statements were recorded secretly without his knowledge or consent. Both Musk's and Gibson's comments were ill advised and have the potential of hurting each of their legal cases.

His main comments and responses from this blog. Note: an Income and Expense Declaration for Mr. Musk, utilized for financial issues in this case, is visible on the Internet. This blog makes no representation as to whether this is actually Mr. Musk's Income and Expense Declaration. Other articles have been written based on this document. This blog refers to the content of this document and the attached "Attachment 1 To Income and Expense Declaration of Petitioner Elon Musk".

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June 30, 2010

San Diego Divorce Analysis: Tiger Wood's Possible Divorce Settlement

Justia-photo-37 golf green.jpegThis blog has previously considered the numerous family law issues involved in this case. The latest news is that the couple is close to a settlement. San Diego child custody attorneys have been following the custody and move away issues in this case. This posting will consider the settlement issues that should be involved once the news breaks.

Cash To Tiger's Wife Elin: Reportedly $750 million. All news sources are going with this amount so there is a likelihood that the amount has been leaked to the press from someone inside and this is probably an accurate number. Reportedly, Michael Jordan paid his ex Wife slightly less than this amount so the amount is not out of line with previous settlements paid by multi millionaire sports stars.

Compare Settlement with Musk Case: This blog has posted an analysis of the Elon and Justine Musk divorce. Reportedly, Mr. Musk, CEO of SpaceX and Tesla automobile companies, has "run out of cash" which is a problem since Mr. Musk reportedly acknowledges that his monthly expenses and Ms. Musk's monthly expenses are approximately $200,000 per month. There are two major differences between these two cases: Mr. Musk heads up private companies. The income available for support is debatable. Expert, forensic witnesses may be paid over $100,000 to prove that there is no money in these cases. Tiger's income is transparent. Further, there was a post marital agreement in the Musk case which, if upheld, will limit the settlement paid to Ms. Musk.

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June 28, 2010

California Divorce Story: Expense High-Income Low

Justia-photo-36 spaceX.jpegThis blog site has considered the California divorce issues raised by this case previously. All information has been obtained from Internet reports and documents. This blog reports that which has publically reported and does not assert the truthfulness of such reports.

Recap: Elon Musk is an entrepreneur. He runs companies such as SpaceX, and Tesla automobile. Tesla makes an electric car that is faster than most gas guzzling muscle cars. (You can hug a tree and go 0-60 in 3.7 seconds.) Justine Musk is an author and you can check out her books on Amazon.com. She lives in Bel-Air. Elon Musk reportedly lives with Talulah Riley, a young actor. The divorce has been filed. Justine Musk signed a post nuptial agreement reportedly transferring all of her right, title and interest to Tesla (and possibly other companies) to Elon Musk. Issues of setting aside the post marital agreement, income available for spousal support, characterization/valuation of property, etc, are present. They are the same issues as seen in the average case. There are just more zeros in the numbers in this case.

This case is back in the news as Elon Musk has publically stated, under penalty of perjury, that he is out of cash. While this may not be surprising for a twenty year old living with his parents, it's newsworthy when it is reported by Elon Musk and in context with a divorce case where reportedly spousal support and/or other financial issues are present. Recently, Andrew Ross Sorkin, New York Times, dug into this story with a report that is fascinating to San Diego Certified Family Law Specialist attorneys and La Jolla divorce lawyers.

(Elon and Talulah at a London Car Show:)

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May 17, 2010

California Premarital and Postnuptial Agreements--Can They Affect a Divorce?

Justia-photo-22 tesla.jpegA news report was just released from Reuter's news and further discussed in hybridcars.com concerning the California divorce between Elon Musk and Justine Musk.

This is just a typical story of a Husband, Elon, who goes off to work every day at his 9 to 5 job while his wife sits a home in her comfortable suburban home and writes novels. After their marriage the Wife is asked to sign a post marital agreement. She signs this document. Later, her Husband files for a divorce and the post marital agreement could mean that the company that the Husband owns might survive. It also means that the agreement could divert millions of dollars away from the Wife.

Pre marital (also known as prenuptial or premarital) agreements are contracts that are negotiated and signed prior to the marriage. Post marital agreements are signed after the marriage. The California divorce laws that apply to them are different. California Certified Family Law Specialists have read thousands of pages regarding the emerging law of fiduciary duties that are owed by each spouse to the other. These duties are completely different from the duties that a single person owes to the other non married person to whom he has proposed marriage. As a San Diego divorce attorney I have seen this area of divorce law grow over the last ten years.

On closer examination we find that the Husband's job is run a company that has created, engineered, and sells the Tesla Roadster. See the Tesla Roadster video below:

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