Ben Zobrist in ugly divorce proceedings after wife cheats on him with their pastor
Ben Zobrist took a leave of absence from the Chicago Cubs roughly two years ago as he was going through a divorce with his wife Julianna. That split is still playing out, and to say it has gotten ugly would be an understatement.
According to court documents that were obtained by Phil Thompson of the Chicago Tribune, Julianna says her estranged husband was “guilty of failing to preserve marital assets” when he took his leave of absence and forfeited nearly $8 million. She is seeking an even split of the couple’s marital assets plus an additional $4 million, which is the amount she says she would have been entitled to if Ben didn’t take time off from playing.
Ben Zobrist called the claim “utterly absurd” and said through his legal team that his and Julianna’s marriage fell apart after Julianna had an affair with the couple’s former marriage counselor and pastor, Byron Yawn. Ben is suing Yawn for $6 million in a separate case for intentional infliction of emotional distress and defrauding the Zobrists’ charity.
Julianna admitted in her deposition that she “confessed her love for Pastor Yawn” in late 2018. She threw a retirement party for Yawn that year at the Zobrist farm and paid nearly $30,000 for it. Ben claims Julianna paid for the event by intentionally using an account that Ben typically did not keep track of.
Ben said Julianna admitted to having an “emotional affair” with Yawn in the spring of 2019. Ben was informed of the affair by Yawn’s ex-wife and decided in May that he “simply could not play baseball while his marriage and family were in limbo.”
The Zobrists initially tried to work through their issues with counseling in 2019, but Ben said Julianna kept in contact with Yawn even after promising not to. Ben says Julianna coaxed him into returning to the Cubs late in the 2019 season because she wanted half of the money he earned by playing.
“It appears that one of wife’s main motives in concealing her affair with Pastor while participating in marriage counseling was to coax husband back into playing baseball so he could further enrich the marital estate in which wife is expected to receive significant sums of money once the court equitably divides the estate,” Ben Zobrist’s memorandum claims. “One would be hard pressed to concoct a more deceitful, sinister, and otherwise inappropriate scheme than wife has devised in this divorce matter.”
Julianna eventually admitted to having a physical affair with Yawn in June 2020. The two are still together.
Ben and Julianna have two children together. Julianna wants primary custody while Ben is seeking a 50-50 split. You can read more of the explosive allegations from the divorce documents here.
The Cubs activated Zobrist from the restricted list on Sept. 1, 2019. He played in the final 21 games of the season and has not played since.