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Final ruling issued by trial judge in high-profile divorce case

California is host to some of the highest profile divorce cases in the country. Such cases occur also in other states. The divorce matter of Richard and Alicia Stephenson has been inching through the family law courts of another state for many years, but a decision by the trial court may signal a final determination. Richard is the multimillionaire founder of the Cancer Treatment Centers of America.

Although Alicia did help out in the business for some years, the court recognized that she spent many years raising their daughter and was essentially kept from developing her own profession. On the other hand, the court noted that Alicia had done nothing since the separation to advance her education and become self-sustaining. After eight acrimonious years in divorce court, the final equities were laid on the line.

The court awarded the wife $27,500 per month in alimony after taxes, much less than the $400,000 she requested. The award included a tax-free lump-sum payment of $6.5 million, a Porsche, jewelry, two motorcycles and a 401(k) fund. The lump-sum represents the wife's share of 10 assets that the parties agreed were jointly held. The parties had been married for 26 years and were separated 10 years ago.

The trial judge found that the couple lived a lavish lifestyle akin to that enjoyed by the "rich and famous." The judge entered a modest award to Alicia, aided by the authority of a prenuptial marital agreement that restricted the woman's recovery, although its terms are currently unknown. Some of the amounts, such as a $450,000 award for housing were included in the prenuptial but were adjusted upwards for inflation.

Interestingly, the prenuptial in effect trumped the lavish lifestyle that Alicia enjoyed during the marriage. Generally, the higher-earning spouse must maintain the other spouse in the same standard of living that he/she enjoyed during the marriage. The court declined to make that kind of an award but gave the wife substantial awards that overshadow the figures seen in the vast majority of divorce cases, whether occurring here in California or another state.

Source: Chicago Tribune, "8-year divorce battle ends with multimillionaire's ex-wife getting $6.5M, Porsche", Amanda Marrazzo and Robert McCoppin, Sept. 14, 2017

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