The Family Business
Sam, the husband
Jeri, the wife, refused reasonable visitation rights and made unreasonable demands for alimony.
Sam, our client, was awarded custody of the three children. The wife was awarded no alimony, and instead had to pay child support to Sam.
Sam owned a large real estate firm when he and his wife Jeri decided to divorce. Sam and Jeri have three children. Although Sam had spent as much time with the children (if not more) than Jeri did, Jeri refused to agree to an equal timesharing schedule. Jeri also made unreasonable financial demands of Sam, including an overvaluation of Sam’s business. There was, unfortunately, no way in which the case could be resolved without trial. Because Jeri’s behavior with the children deteriorated throughout the case, we requested that Sam be awarded primary custody (this case took place before the law eliminating “custody” came into effect). In addition, we presented a different, realistic valuation of Sam’s business at trial.
In a custody case, or in a case where the parties cannot agree on the timesharing schedule each shall have with the children, the court looks closely at which parent is more likely to keep a good relationship with the other parent. Courts strongly favor arrangements in which both parents can develop good relationships with their children. We were able to demonstrate that Sam had as much, if not more, capability to nurture his three children and encourage them to maintain a close relationship with their mother. This can be a difficult case to build, but we relied on e-mails, testimony from a court-appointed guardian, and Jeri’s previous history. Ultimately, Sam was awarded custody of the girls (an unusual event where female children are involved), with visitation rights for Jeri.
Although this marriage was less than 15 years in duration, Jeri requested a substantial amount of permanent alimony. In opposition, we showed the court that Jeri’s financial experts had overestimated the value of Sam’s business. To do this, we brought in financial experts and accountants who showed the judge that Jeri’s accountants and lawyers were counting some income twice and using other methods to inflate the value of the business. In fact, she had valued the company at $6 million, while we were able to show that it was worth about $450,000. However, once a judge loses faith in a contestant in a divorce case it is almost impossible to regain credibility with the court. As a result, Jeri was awarded no alimony and had to contribute child support for their children.