Friday, February 25, 2011

Was Mel Gibson the victim of extortion?

Mel-Gibson_Oksana-Grigorieva1.jpgWhile the child custody case between Mel Gibson and his former girlfriend, Oksana Grigorieva, is ongoing, the police investigation into possible extortion by Grigorieva is now in its final stages. According to Gibson's attorney, Grigorieva allegedly secretly recorded a string of Gibson's embarrassing rants and demanded more than $20 million in exchange for not releasing the tapes.

Prosecutors are now attempting to determine whether Grigorieva's demand qualifies as extortion or simply an aggressive legal negotiation strategy.

Gibson's legal team did view the demand as extortion, though even the most experienced legal experts often have trouble discerning the fine line between threatening civil litigation in order to seek a financial settlement, which is usually legal, and threatening criminal prosecution or public humiliation in order to seek the same, which is usually a crime.

Gibson's team consulted a criminal attorney, who said the actor was indeed the victim of extortion. However, the attorney cautioned that the tapes would be publicized if Gibson pressed criminal charges. Ultimately, Gibson's attorneys decided to propose an $18 million settlement for Grigorieva and their daughter, Lucia. The settlement, which would be paid out over 20 years, stipulated that Gibson and Grigorieva would share child custody. In exchange, the tape recordings would be stored in a safe deposit box.

Grigorieva's lawyers replied with a request for more money. As part of Grigorieva's demands, Gibson would owe $26 million in assets and only receive visitation rights. This deal fell through, and the tapes were ultimately released.

Grigorieva's actions illustrate how easy it can be to cross the line from aggressively negotiating to committing a crime. Had she consulted more carefully with an attorney, she may not have exposed herself to possible criminal charges.

If you find yourself in a child custody dispute, an experienced family law attorney can help you understand the process and the legal issues involved.

Source: Los Angeles Times, "A look at secret negotiations in Mel Gibson case as detectives wrap investigation," Harriet Ryan, 2/17/2011

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Hundreds of children taken to Japan in child custody battles

art.father.wtvf.jpgInternational child abduction occurs when a parent takes a child to a foreign country in violation of an American parent's child custody rights and often in violation of an American child custody order. Many countries have signed the Hague Convention on Child Abduction, an international treaty that promotes recognition and enforcement of child custody decisions across international borders. However, some of America's closest allies have not signed the Hague Convention.
Hundreds of American children have been abducted to Japan as a result of custody battles. Many of these children are taken by their own mothers, resulting in a clear violation of fathers' rights within the U.S. The Japanese government is especially notorious for not recognizing U.S. child custody orders, making the country an ideal haven for international child abduction.

Many individuals who take their children to Japan against child custody rulings openly lie in order to obtain passports, and the Japanese consulate rarely notices or even cares about the presence of an abducted child. Once the parent and child are in Japan, the parent is protected by the fact that the Japanese government has not signed the Hague Convention, which mandates the return of an abducted child to their lawful guardian.

Over the past 17 years, approximately 321 complaints of child abduction have been filed with the State Department. However, not one child has been returned to the U.S. from Japan through diplomatic means.

According to Janice Jacobs, the assistant secretary of state in consular affairs, officials at the highest levels of the Japanese and U.S. government are well aware of the child abduction issues. However, efforts thus far have failed to persuade the Japanese government to do the right thing and return children to the parents that have been left behind by parental child abduction.

Source: ABC News, "Abducted to Japan: Hundreds of American Children Taken," Sarah Netter and Abbie Boudreau, 2/16/2011

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Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Steve Harvey gets help from judge in dispute with ex-wife


stevemary.jpgWithout specifically saying her pants are on fire, a family law judge recently admonished Steve Harvey's ex-wife for making claims about their divorce that were less than true.
Steve Harvey and Mary Harvey divorced in 2005. Despite there being a gag order in place, Mary recently posted several videos on the internet and gave a radio interview on the Tom Joyner radio program, in which she made several damaging allegations against Steve.
Firstly, she claimed that the divorce left her destitute. Secondly, she claimed that the 54-year-old comedian and host of the "Family Feud" took her son away from her. Thirdly, she claimed that their marriage broke down because Steve was having an affair with Marjorie Bridges, his present wife.

These allegations left Steve in an awkward position, because the divorce judge ordered both of them not to discuss the case publicly. Fearing that he would be unable to respond to the allegations, Steve went back to court and enlisted the help of Judge Robert Dry, who temporarily lifted the gag order and allowed Steve to release a statement and a signed court order from the judge.

In a four-page order obtained by the New York Daily news available at the link below, Judge Dry refuted Mary Harvey's claims. He stated that Mary was not homeless or destitute. In fact, she received three homes in the divorce. She also received a $40,000 per month in alimony through March 2009, and then she received an additional $1.5 million in March 2009.

Regarding Mary's allegations about her son, Judge Dry stated that Mary willingly placed their son on an airplane and sent him to Steve Harvey without his knowledge. Steve Harvey currently has primary custody of their son. As to the allegations of an affair, Judge Dry stated that Marjorie Bridges was not a part of the original divorce and was not the reason for the end of the marriage.

In addition to being reprimanded publicly for taking liberties with the truth, Judge Dry ordered her to take down her internet videos and to cease discussing the divorce in public. A hearing to determine if Mary violated the gag order is scheduled for March 10.

If she is found to have violated the gag order, Mary Harvey may be facing sanctions. Because he worked with the court and received permission to publicly respond, it appears very unlikely that Steve Harvey would face any similar sanctions.

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Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Kelsey Grammer closer to becoming officially divorced

kelsey_grammer_wife.jpgKelsey Grammer and Camille Grammer appear to be one step closer to making their divorce official. The story of Kelsey and Camille's marriage and divorce is a complicated tale involving money and fame, but we'll bring you up to speed.

Kelsey, the actor best known for his portrayal of Dr. Frasier Crane on television for 20 years, married Camille, now the star on "The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills," in 1997. At the time of their wedding, Kelsey was among the highest paid television stars. At the peak of his earning power, Grammer earned $700,000 for every episode he filmed of "Frasier."

Although Grammer was fabulously wealthy from his television earnings, many people credit Camille with helping Grammer grow his earnings into even more wealth. Together they established Gramnet Productions, which has produced several television programs including "Medium." It is now estimated that Grammer now owns about $100 million in assets.

However, the couple separated this summer after 13 years of marriage. To complicate matters, Kelsey Grammer is engaged to Kayte Walsh, a 27-year-old flight attendant. Kelsey has wanted to finalize his divorce from Camille as quickly as possible so he can marry Kaye Walsh.

Unfortunately for Kelsey, he never signed a prenuptial agreement with Camille. Negotiations over the complex division of marital property have slowed down the process of finalizing his divorce from Camille. However, reports indicate that a family court judge will grant a final divorce this week. This will end the marriage, but it will not resolve the issue of marital property division.

Because there was no prenuptial agreement between Kelsey and Camille, Camille believes she is entitled to as much as 50 percent of the $100 million dollars. Oddly enough, Kelsey has expressed his desire to marry Kayte Walsh as quickly as possible and has expressed no desire to sign a prenuptial agreement with her.

Sources:, "Grammer's divorce to be finalized Thursday," 2/7/2011

The Huffington Post, "Camille Grammer Demands $50 Million In Divorce Settlement: Report," 12/30/2010
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Sunday, February 6, 2011

The 'Oscar curse': Are Oscar winners more likely to divorce?

The 'Oscar curse': Are Oscar winners more likely to divorce?

unhappy-oscars.jpgThe 83rd Academy Awards will reward the year's best films, actors and actresses with a golden trophy affectionately referred to as "Oscar." With the Academy Awards a short three weeks away, there has been a lot of buzz about an "Oscar curse."
The Oscar curse refers to the perception that Oscar winners, especially the winners of the Best Actress award, are more likely to get divorced soon after winning. Hilary Swank, Joan Crawford, Halle Berry, Sandra Bullock, Bette Davis and Kate Winslet all divorced shortly after winning their Best Actress Oscars. Recently, a pair of intrepid researchers at the University of Toronto and Carnegie Mellon University put the theory of the Oscar curse to the test, only to find that it is based on a statistical reality.

Winners of the Best Actress Oscar really do have a higher chance of divorcing than the actresses who were nominated, but did not win. The researchers studied the marriages of the 751 nominees in the Best Actress and Best Actor categories from 1936 to 2010. Their results showed Best Actress winners' marriages had a median duration of 4.30 years after winning the Oscar, which was significantly shorter than the 9.51-year duration for nominees who did not win.

When the researchers looked at the duration of the Best Actor's marriages, they found no significant difference. The median duration for the Best Actor winners' marriages was 11.97 years, while Best Actor nominees had a median duration of 12.66 years.

Although there is very little chance of there actually being a cursed placed on the Best Actress Oscar, the study did show that a sudden change in status in one spouse can be one of the factors leading to a divorce.
Source: Rothman School of Management, University of Toronto, "The Oscar Curse? Study Says that Oscar Win for Best Actress Increases the Risk of Divorce," 1/28/2011

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