Two famous, or more accurately infamous, men have opted to settle pending divorces in private, likely more for what they anticipated.
Harvey Weinstein, whose serial sex-related misconduct helped launch the MeToo movement, reached a private settlement with is estranged wife, designer Georgina Chapman. Why would Georgina want to settle privately given the untold damage to her reputation and family life caused by Weinstein’s behavior? Money.
It appears that Harvey and Georgina had a very detailed prenuptial agreement that provided Georgina $400,000 per year as property settlement, a gross sum of $4 million in spousal support, a housing allowance and added sums when the marriage passed the ten-year anniversary. Reportedly, under the prenuptial agreement, Georgina would be entitled to $11.75 million. Privately, the parties agreed to a larger sum – in the $15 to $20 million range.
While Georgina likely could have set aside the prenuptial agreement given the gross marital misconduct, she would have to engage in a public divorce where she would put Harvey on trial for his misdeeds. To do so would require attorney fees and extend the time she would be able to put this mess behind her; also, if Harvey fought to defend what is left of his reputation, it could cost her public reputation as well. And Harvey offered more than the prenuptial agreement because he knew dragging the divorce out would only cause him more damage, particularly as criminal investigations continue into some of the alleged offenses. So, it seems that a quick settlement nearly twice the value of the prenuptial agreement worked in both parties’ favor.
The other infamous man in the news – Anthony Weiner – apparently has decided to settle his divorce privately, as Huma Abedin withdrew her case from the active docket in family court. Given that Weiner is in prison on charges related to sexting with an underage girl, one wonders what possible settlement controversy could arise. Weiner will have to register as a sex offender for years after his release, and he caused untold damage to his wife’s career and reputation. Whatever marital sums exist, it would seem Weiner has little to argue on his behalf – which may be why the case is now at settlement stage. While Huma gave a statement that the parties have done this to protect the child from further publicity, it seems that ship sailed when his parents became Internet fodder forever. In all likelihood, Weiner gave up most of the marital estate in exchange for some future with the child – supervised visitation with hope for more should he prove he rehabilitated himself.
Would these cases have come out differently if tried in Missouri and not settled? Not likely. In the Weinstein marriage, it seems a good bet Missouri would have set aside the prenuptial agreement and entered a highly inequitable distribution of property and support. In the Weiner marriage, Missouri puts a limit on custodial rights of convicted sex offenders, so the case would have very little to dispute. While affairs that end a marriage tend to have little impact on property distribution, gross marital misconduct will lead to an inequitable division, and both of these cases are classics of “gross” misconduct, in every sense of the world.
If you have questions about marital misconduct and divorce, contact us – we can help.