As many California residents have found, some divorces are complex, particularly in high-asset splits. The litigation can be frustrating and continue for an extended period. This is evidenced in legal proceedings brought against Dick Wolf, who created the series ‘Law and Order”, by his former spouse.
The former Mrs. Wolf filed a lawsuit in 2004 claiming that the divorce settlement obtained the previous year was based on fraudulent information concerning her husband’s assets provided in the original divorce documents. A judge in Santa Barbara ruled against her and a subsequent appellate court affirmed that.
Her contention when filing the lawsuit was that she was unaware that Wolf was in negotiations for the continuation of the television series at the time of their divorce and that the successful deal made her husband’s company much more valuable. In the divorce settlement, she was granted alimony of up to $2 million for up to eight years, $17.5 million in cash, the couple’s home in Maine and other assets. Reportedly, it was her decision to settle the proceedings without lengthy litigation.
She later filed a lawsuit against a former business manager who is now deceased and a company affiliated with his firm. She contended that the divorce decree was fraudulent because the value of the couple’s community property was not disclosed by them during mediation. According to the judge, Wolf’s former wife had agreed to the financial advisers. In addition, the judge recently denied access to documents and communication used during mediation.
A mediated settlement may be a preferred way for estranged couples to end their marriage rather than protracted and expensive litigation. Mediators can sometimes find solutions to difficult problems more readily than judges, and each party is still entitled to separate legal representation throughout the process.