America's sweetheart is in terrible danger and it doesn't come from her roving husband or his tattooed stripper girlfriend. Ms. Bullock will be the target of a lot of aggressive divorce lawyers. I am sure as we speak, the lens lice who thrive on the media spotlight and love to stand next to any woman involved in a high profile case, are seeking her ear while they call their publicity agent, because it is clear, these types of lawyers first priority is their own fame -- not actually helping their clients. High asset divorces are easy to settle. Just ask the King of All Media, Howard Stern.
There are not many people in the world with the kind of money and fame that Howard Stern enjoys and yet when he and his wife divorced, they used divorce mediation. He is not just the King of All Media, he is the king of peaceful and fair divorce. There must have been a chorus of voices urging him to hire the most aggressive divorce lawyer in town so that he could protect his assets and yet he knew the best way to keep the most money was to avoid divorce lawyers. He and his wife Allison had a discrete, fast and fair divorce because they chose not to make it a media circus by engaging in divorce mediation rather than litigation.
If Ms. Bullock was thinking clearly prior to taking the matrimonial plunge in 2005, she made sure she had a prenuptial agreement. But given her gentle nature, she probably didn't protect herself by having a document that would outline who would get what and under what conditions. So what does she face now? She has what California considers a short term marriage which means any marriage under 10 years long. The spousal support laws that govern short term marriages overwhelmingly suggest that support be paid, if it is even ordered, no longer than half the length of the marriage. The higher earning spouse will usually be ordered to pay the lower earning spouse some kind of support. But, if Mr. James has any kind of pride, he knows he is the one who ended this marriage and should be ashamed to even ask her for support.
If he goes to an aggressive lawyer, James will be advised and encouraged to fight for every dime, even if he doesn't want to. Aggressive divorce lawyers make it their business to take all steps possible to complicate and lengthen the case so they can earn as much money as possible. Very few divorce lawyers would look at a situation like this and say, "Jesse, you blew it, be a man and walk away with whatever you came into the marriage with and leave this lady alone." The case would be over and the lawyer would make no money, so they would never give such sensible advice.
Property division is the next issue. All property purchased during the marriage that was paid for using funds earned during the marriage is community property and is divided equally. If either party purchased a home prior to getting married, but used funds earned during the marriage to pay the mortgage, that home is a mixed asset that is partly community and partly separate. It is not difficult to calculate the community and separate property percentages of the property, so there is really nothing to fight about. California is a "no fault" state so it doesn't matter who strayed, or who is the "innocent" spouse. Community property is always divided fifty- fifty.
But let's face it, Bullock doesn't want his motorcycles and he doesn't want her car. It is not a difficult problem to divide property, unless you have an aggressive attorney who is encouraging a fight. Remember, these people are paid by the hour. There is no incentive to wrap up a case quickly, fairly and inexpensively. Everyone should identify the community property they want and for all the disputed items, they can flip a coin one time. If it is heads, the older person can pick first, tails the younger person picks first, going back and forth until all such disputed items have been chosen. If you take this advice, Jesse and Sandra, I just saved you at least $250,000 in attorney fees.
Thankfully, America's sweetheart has no children with Mr. James, so custody isn't an issue they will have to deal with. But she has been helping raise his daughter from a prior relationship. Children bond with their caretakers and this little girl probably loves her step mother and should be allowed to continue to spend time with her. There is no way that this will happen if divorce lawyers get involved. When you hire a gladiator, there will be a fight. So the bottom line is this, there is nothing complicated in this case. People who are fair minded and reasonable should avoid divorce lawyers, court and litigation like the plague. Ignore those who are telling you to run to the meanest shark in town so you can exact vengeance on the other side. Show your true colors and work together in mediation so you can resolve your issues in a calm and private manner. You will save at least a million dollars in legal fees. That is another million you could give to charity. God knows the world needs more generous people such as Sandra Bullock, who has already given one million dollars to the people of Haiti. You only get one chance to have a peaceful divorce. Don't make that drive to Beverly Hills to talk to that shark. There is a peaceful alternative!
Follow Belinda Etezad Rachman on Twitter: www.twitter.com/belindaesq