Without a prenuptial agreement, one of the most stressful steps in any divorce is splitting up the family assets.
Before anything is put in writing, the default legal standard is that couples share everything equally (or equitably). Even if one person is making six figures and the other is working part-time, each of them support the relationship in their own way.
Here in Renton, divorces usually come close to splitting whatever was earned or acquired during the marriage 50/50.
High profile divorces are rarely so simple, which have led to some spectacularly odd concessions when dividing family assets. Here are a few of our favorite examples.
A Room Full of Blankets
In 2014, Michael Moore’s divorce become front-page news when court documents were leaked. The fight over the couple’s finances crippled the documentary filmmaker’s carefully managed reputation as a man of the people, leading him to vilify his wife’s lifestyle...and her quilt collection.
Michael and Kathleen Moore were having their 10th joint property built when they decided to legally separate...around the same time Moore’s documentary on the evils of capitalism was released.
A multi-million dollar lakeside mansion doesn’t exactly scream “Down with the man!” so Michael’s legal team devoted most of the divorce proceedings to arguing that his wife’s reckless spending ruined his image.
Eventually, the beancounters stooped to auditing Kathleen’s quilt collection.
And a good thing, too; splitting a stack of blankets almost certainly had a noticeable impact on how the couple's $50+ million was divided.
A Backyard BBQ Kit
Dennis Hopper was no stranger to divorce court. Before his final marriage to Victoria Duffy, he had been married four times -- one of them only eight days long. Sadly, he died as he lived, duking it out with the Mrs. in court.
The couple was in the middle of a dramatic divorce when Hopper died in 2010.
Unsurprisingly, the woman that he described in court documents as “outrageous, insane, inhuman and volatile” continued the case long after his passing. In addition to arguing that her share of his estate and life insurance payout had been improperly amended before his death, she also demanded the return of some bizarrely specific household items, including:
- An exercise bike
- A butcher’s block
- A juicer
- Some rosebushes
- Asparagus tongs
All of those items can be picked up at the Renton Fred Meyer for $1,000. But apparently those items were worth fighting over amidst a $40 million divorce settlement with her dead husband’s children. Stay classy Duffy.
An alias and an animal appendage
There are a disgusting amount of jokes about ex-wives taking everything and the kitchen sink in divorce cases, but they’re crude jokes with little-to-no basis in family law.
Unless those jokes are about David Hasselhoff.
That’s because other than his “elephant foot and two elephant stools” (don’t ask, we spent more time trying to figure out what this meant than we did writing the rest of this article), all the Baywatch star walked away with was the rights to the moniker “The Hoff.”
Apparently, that included a “successful” line of t-shirts and bumper stickers that read “Don’t Hassel the Hoff.” As well as ongoing negotiations for a TV series called Tales of the Hoff.
He may have lost the love of his life, custody of his children, and nearly every last dime...but at least he got to keep his name.
A Nobel Prize
Albert Einstein’s first wife divorced him after she learned that he was in love with his cousin, Elsa. Somehow, Einstein’s true love was both his first and second cousin, proving once and for all that everything he cared about made no sense to the rest of us.
When Einstein finalized the divorce with his first wife in 1919, a clause was included that read:
"The Nobel Prize - in the event of the divorce and in the event that it is bestowed upon me -- would be ceded to you in full a priori.“
Three short years later, Albert Einstein won the coveted award in physics. Ironically, it was not for proving that time travel is possible.
In a city of just over 100,000 people, we’re not charging hourly rates that put us in Michael Moore’s 1% bracket. But that being said, asking for our help to get back a $1 pair of asparagus tongs is going to cost you more than just your dignity.
As family lawyers, we understand that a balance needs to be struck between providing legal services and providing guidance on how to make your divorce as painless as possible. Call us today to learn more.