Attorney Matthew R. Arnold answering the question: “When do you get alimony?”
Things appear to be heating up in the Rupert and Wendi Murdoch divorce case. Mr. Murdoch surprised his wife of 14 years with divorce papers only a month ago and already Mrs. Murdoch appears to be changing her tactics in the split.
Murdoch initially hired a New York attorney, Pamela Sloan, to represent her in the divorce. Ms. Sloan had worked with Mrs. Murdoch several times in the past; including the first time Mrs. Murdoch signed a prenuptial agreement and again when a second and third postnuptial document was created after the births of their children. Friends close to Mrs. Murdoch say they believe Sloan was too close to Rupert and that Wendi wanted a fresh set of eyes on the case.
Mrs. Murdoch has now hired William Zabel, a well-known lawyer to the stars in Manhattan who represented Jack Welch’s wife in her divorce and handles the estate planning affairs of billionaire George Soros. Experts believe choosing Zabel is a clear sign on Mrs. Murdoch’s part that she does not intend to slip away quietly and will instead fight to receive as large of a piece of Mr. Murdoch’s wealth as possible.
Though it’s true that Mrs. Murdoch signed several agreements with Rupert (one prenuptial agreement and two postnuptial agreements), experts say there are several areas that remain up for negotiation that Wendi intends to take full advantage of. One clear example of such an unsettled issue involves the children, two girls, 11 and 9 years old. In many cases, issues involving child custody arrangements and child support are left out of prenuptial agreements because courts do not view them as binding. As a result, issues involving children are often used in such high profile cases by the less-moneyed spouse as a tool for extracting money that they may have already signed away in previous agreements.
Other issues that experts point to include how certain valuable assets will be divided given that they were recently acquired and likely not mentioned in previous agreements. This includes a new, multimillion-dollar yacht and a Fifth Avenue penthouse. Another subject that might be litigated involves the Murdoch family trust, the entity which controls the family’s shares in News Corp. Issues surrounding what share of the trust Mrs. Murdoch’s two children would have could prompt a big fight given that Rupert has four other adult children from two prior marriages. Given Zabel’s experience in estate planning, many expect him to go through the trust documents with a fine-toothed comb looking for any issues that might negatively impact his client.
The news of the new attorney likely comes as unwelcome news to Mr. Murdoch who has had more than his fair share of divorce drama. In 1998, Rupert divorced his second wife Anna, a split that cost him more than $110 million in cash and is estimated to have totaled more than $1.2 billion when stocks and property were factored in.
If you find yourself facing a complicated family matter then you need the help of experienced family law attorneys in Charlotte, North Carolina who can help guide you through the often confusing process of divorce.
About the Author:
Matthew Arnold is a Managing Member with Arnold & Smith, PLLC where he focuses his practice on most aspects of Family law: divorce, child custody, child support, alimony, and equitable distribution. Mr. Arnold is an experienced trial attorney who has tried jury and bench trials in both North Carolina District Court and North Carolina Superior Court.
Mr. Arnold grew up in Charlotte, graduating from Providence Senior High School and continued his education at Belmont Abbey College on a basketball scholarship. After graduating cum laude he attended law school at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill on a full academic scholarship. In his spare time, Mr. Arnold enjoys golfing and spending time on the North Carolina Coast with his wife and three young children: two daughters and one son.
“Wendi Murdoch Hires a New Lawyer, Suggesting a Divorce May Turn Messy,” by Peter Lattman, published at NYTimes.com.
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