Anonymous v. Anonymous: The Secret Divorces

GeorgiaLeeLang016Anthony Weiner’s public and private activities have been splashed over media outlets around the world. Besides his unsuccessful run for mayor of New York in 2013, and the discovery of “Hillary” emails on his computer, there has been rampant media coverage of his arrest for sexting an underage teen, and his 21-month prison sentence.

But even more recently was the news that Huma Abedin, Mr. Weiner’s wife, and former top aide to Hillary Clinton, made an application to the New York divorce court to keep their divorce proceedings private, with their names hidden from the public via an “Anonymous v. Anonymous” designation.

In the world of celebrity divorce, where notoriety for the wrong reasons is to be avoided, celebrities often convince judges to ignore their written policies on open and transparent courts.

New York is just like British Columbia, where divorce and family law files are not searchable by the general public or the media, but only by the parties themselves, their lawyers, or any other lawyer. Family Court hearings are always public, and once a court makes a ruling, Reasons for Judgment are posted on the internet, and the details of the proceedings are fair game for publication. In some cases, where children are involved, a court will initialize the parties’ and their children’s names, but this is also the exception and not the rule.

Leading divorce lawyers in Los Angeles and New York have spilled the beans on certain judges and celebrities who have manipulated the system to avoid the ignominy of having their personal peccadilloes and financial wherewithal, (or not), broadcast for public consumption. Los Angeles divorce attorney Laura Wasser says the reasons celebrities want anonymity is varied, but for some it’s because they are embarrassed at their lack of a substantial net worth.

One example of a notorious “anonymous” divorce was the divorce of Mayor Rudy Guliani and his wife Donna Hanover in 2000. Guiliani was the mayor of New York, involved in an affair with staff member, Judith Nathan, who he later married. His divorce attorney, Raoul Felder applied for the designation but even he admitted that everyone who followed the case knew it was the mayor’s divorce. Felder also noted that the presiding judge, Justice Judith Gische at one point said that it was silly to continue the anonymous designation, but it remained in place throughout the proceedings.

Even more startling was the divorce of Real Housewives of New York star, Bethanny Frankel, whose whole life was on display on her reality television show, nonetheless, her lawyer was able to convince Judge Ellen Gesmer to anonymize her divorce from Jason Hopper. Judge Gesmer even kept the “public” hearings private by keeping the case off the court docket sheets typically displayed on boards on the ground floor of the courthouse.

As for Huma and Anthony, the court ruled against them this week, ensuring that their divorce case will not be sequestered. A better incentive to settle out of court could not be found!

Lawdiva aka Georgialee Lang

Father Walks to Highlight the Abuse of Parental Alienation

BarristerPatrick Glynn is on a mission. He wants the world to know that parental alienation is rampant in North America and that he is just one its many victims.

Emotionally and financially spent after his divorce, Patrick’s website, walkforlostkids.com tells his story. As a working father Patrick was not his children’s primary caretaker, but he never dreamed he would become an occasional father.

With the financial pressure of paying for two households he was forced to move and take a job 300 miles away from his children, nonetheless, he drove ten-hours roundtrip every weekend to see them. Worst of all was that the game played by his wife meant he had to prove he was a worthy father, a cunning ploy that saw his wife and her lawyer convince the Court to curtail his visits to six weeks a year.

He says:

“I went from being an involved, hands-on dad to the courts relegating me to seeing my two daughters for six weeks a year, all because my wife wanted a divorce”.

To gain attention to the harm of parental alienation and the despair of its victims, Patrick began his “Walk for Lost Kids” last Fall by walking from Boston to Washington D.C, a 400 mile trek. Along the way he was joined by moms and dads who suffer like he does from a family court system that is out of touch with social science research on parenting and the evils of abusive spouses who use their children to inflict punishment on their spouses.

Writing on his blog, Patrick says:

“Meanwhile, smart, compassionate parents are endlessly stuck in their own cycles; unable to escape family courts and punished with financial and court harassment for years on end. Reasonable, solution-based people eventually realize their limited options at getting out of the abusive never-ending spiral:

Homicide
Suicide
Walking away from their own kids (which won’t stop the court harassment)
Fighting in court against their will, while being financially drained with little hope since the system is slanted
Accepting — in most instances — at least a decade of abuse while the kids are minors with little to no understanding from their peers.”

If this sounds overly dramatic be assured that it is reality for thousands of parents, many of whom have passed through the doors of my law office. And if you think this is a father’s rights issue, you’re wrong. It affects mothers as well as fathers, but it is the children who are scarred for life.

Back on the road, Patrick has just embarked on his second walk this month, a trek that will take him 549 miles from Sacramento to Los Angeles and end in late May. If you see him on the road, walk with him, and let him know you agree the family law justice system needs reform and needs it now. His Walk schedule is posted on walkforlostkids.com.

Lawdiva aka Georgialee Lang

Could It Happen in Your Family?

DSC00507 (2)Tomorrow at 5 pm I’ll be doing an interview with Jill Egizii who is the host of her own show on blogtalkradio.com out of Springfield Illinois. Jill is a local politician and advocate for children with a special interest in parental alienation.

She’ll be discussing a story out of California involving pop radio icon Casey Kasem, now 81-years-old, who ruled the airwaves for decades as a music historian and deejay, best known for the popular show “American Top 40” and its multiple spin-offs.

Mr. Kasem retired from radio and his impressive voice-over career in 2009 once he became debilitated by Parkinson’s disease. Recently, however, he has been back in the media spotlight as a result of a situation that is sadly, not uncommon.

Mr. Kasem’s three adult children, Mike, Julie and Kerrie, from his 7-year marriage to his first wife, Linda Meyers, have been refused contact with their father by his second wife, albeit of 33 years, whose relationship with his children was sour from the get-go in 1980.

Media reports indicate the children were very close to their father, who is of Lebanese heritage, and had regular contact with him until he became immobilized due to his illness and also lost his ability to speak.

Daughter Julie brought a conservatorship application in an attempt to become involved in his care, however, she dropped the court case after negotiating visiting time with her father’s wife, Jean Kasem.

The children’s desperate campaign to see their father has included “picketing” in front of the home he shares with Mrs. Kasem, all in an effort to gain access to him. But it is not only his children who are barred, but also close friends and long-time business associates, who participated in the protest outside his Holmby Hills estate in Los Angeles.

In December of last year, Mrs. Kasem consented to the children seeing their dad for twenty-minutes before being escorted out by a paid “bouncer”.

As a result of the profile of this family, one California legislator is proposing new law to protect disabled, elderly parents from “forced” estrangement, such as in this case.

Sadly, with the multiplicity of divorce and remarriage, there will be more cases like this and more elderly victims.

Kerrie Kasem will also be featured in this interview.

Lawdiva aka Georgialee Lang

Round Up of 2013 Celebrity Divorces- Part 2

DSC01152_2 (2)_2Hollywood’s gossip editors had plenty to write about this year as they followed the ups and downs of the stars’ relationships, while L.A. divorce lawyers stayed as busy as ever.

1. Clint Eastwood and Dina Ruiz

Clint started his spectacular Hollywood career as the star of several Italian produced “spaghetti westerns” and later morphed into Dirty Harry, before launching his third act as an Oscar-winning director and producer.

While his professional life seemed to be one of repeated success, his personal life has been complicated, to say the least. Clint has seven children from five women, two of whom he married. Unfortunately Mr. Eastwood’s current marriage to former LA TV anchor, Dina Ruiz, 35 years his junior, has come to its conclusion, after 14 years.

They separated earlier in 2013 and Ms. Ruiz filed for divorce, only to abandon the proceedings and attempt to reconcile. But as is typical in marriage breakdown, the reconciliation failed.

Ms. Ruiz is seeking custody of their 16-year-old daughter and spousal support. Clint has already announced his unwillingness to pay Dina support but I suspect that absent a solid prenuptial agreement, California law will ensure she receives support and a large share of his assets.

Apparently Clint and Dina have each moved on to new relationships. In a curious twist, Dina has been linked with old friend and University of Hawaii basketball coach Scott Fisher, while Clint was recently seen with Mr. Fisher’s ex-wife.

2. Ashley Judd and Dario Franchitti

Actress and political activist Ashley Judd married acclaimed British Indy race car driver in 2001. Raised in a show business family, Ashley’s mother Naomi Judd, and step-sister Winona, admitted on Oprah that their family life had been dysfunctional and detrimental to Ashley as she grew up.

She moved to Los Angeles from Kentucky, studied acting, and worked as a waitress at L.A.’s famed Ivy Restaurant, before catching a break that landed her on the silver screen and television.

The couple had no children. Ashley once said that it would be irresponsible to bring children into a world where so many impoverished children needed a home.

Several years ago she attended Harvard University and received a Masters Degree in Public Administration. She was also rumoured to be interested in running for the US Senate, but so far has not thrown her hat into the ring

They separated in January 2013. On 6 October 2013, Dario was involved in a serious crash at the Grand Prix of Houston, when his car flew into catch-fencing after contact with another racer’s car. He suffered two fractured vertebrae, a broken ankle and a concussion in the accident. A month later, on 14 November 2013, Franchitti announced his immediate retirement from motor racing.

He retired with 31 victories from 265 starts in American open-wheel racing, a record which put him in a tie for eighth place on the all-time wins list, with Paul Tracy and Sébastien Bourdais.

Ashley flew to his side after the accident. Who knows, maybe they will reconcile yet?

Lawdiva aka Georgialee Lang

Steve Nash’s Child Support Dispute Turns Into PR Nightmare

GEO#1

British Columbia is proud of native son Steve Nash and rightly so. He shines for his athletic prowess, his philanthropic focus, and his entrepreneurship. An NBA all-star, his career has seen him play for Phoenix, Dallas and now, Los Angeles. He has an Order of Canada and received an honourary Doctorate in Law from the University of Victoria.

In 2001, Nash met his future wife, Alejandra Amarilla, in Manhattan. They married in June 2005 and had twin daughters, Lola and Bella, born in 2004, and then a son, Matteo Joel, born in 2010. On the day of his son’s birth, Nash made a statement to the press in which he announced his son’s birth, but called it a “bittersweet moment”, revealing that he and his wife had “lived separately for the past several months” and were “in the process of dissolving” their marriage.

Steve Nash’s marriage breakdown was just another celebrity split-up in an era where divorce announcements are as frequent as birth announcements and garnered a relatively modest amount of media attention.

However, Nash’s polished image is taking a trouncing as celebrity gossip websites announce that he and his former wife, Alejandro Amarilla, are engaged in a dispute about whether she can move with their three children from Phoenix, where the couple lived during their marriage, to Los Angeles, where Steve Nash now lives and works.

Stories circulating in the media include the allegation that Ms. Amarilla only wishes to leave Arizona so she can avail herself of what is described as California’s more generous child support laws.

The media has reported that while the children reside in Arizona, Mr. Nash is not obliged to pay child support and he is only resisting his ex-wife’s move to California so he can maintain the status quo.

Details are scarce and Mr. Nash’s advisors are keeping a low profile, however, it strains credulity to believe that Nash is a “deadbeat dad” as some twitter enthusiasts are suggesting.

What has emerged is that his ex-wife received a mult-million dollar divorce settlement, has her own financial resources, and Mr. Nash pays for the children’s education, medical and related expenses, extracurricular activities and the children’s nanny.

It is more likely that Nash’s opposition to the children’s move is because he understands that children need stability and certainty, which is what they have in Phoenix. Mr. Nash’s parents also live there. Finally, to move the children to follow their father in the waning years of his career may entail further transitions for the children as his playing days come to an end.

Lawdiva aka Georgialee Lang