A celebrity divorce that has dominated the news recently raises several interesting issues regarding the institution of marriage and the importance of timing in a divorce case. Of course, I’m referring to the marriage of former NBA star Lamar Odom and Khloe Kardashian, who also claims celebrity fame albeit of unknown orientation.
Kardashian filed for divorce in December 2013 and entered into a marriage settlement agreement in July 2015, but the couple remains legally married nearly 2 years later because the agreement has not been finalized by the courts.
It is admittedly not uncommon for some divorce proceedings to drag on and on. A marriage settlement agreement like the one in the case of Odom and Kardashian is a big step towards a final resolution, but “it ain’t over until it’s over”. With respect to a divorce, this means having a Judge adopt and ratify the agreement into a final order of dissolution of marriage.
It has been widely reported that Kardashian, as the legal wife of Odom, would have been able to exercise end of life decisions for Odom after he slipped into a coma in October 2015 resulting from alleged drug abuse. Fortunately for Odom and his family, he is now recovering and a difficult decision (and potential legal crisis) was averted.
The case of Odom and Kardashian raises other interesting issues of timing when it comes to separation and divorce – for example, a couple who is legally separated but have not filed a divorce petition for may still be on the hook for the debt (and newly acquired wealth) of their spouse up and until the filing of the petition. Similarly, even after the filing of a divorce, there is a presumption in the State of Florida that any children conceived are “of the marriage” which automatically designates the not yet divorced husband as the father of the child!
The decision to file for divorce is almost always a very difficult and emotional one. However, in making these important decisions, it’s important to remember that timing matters … “it ain’t over until it’s over”!