Khloe Kardashian reconciling with Lamar Odom could be costly
Khloe Kardashian withdrew her divorce papers from Lamar Odom on Wednesday and has also called off her relationship with James Harden. There is a good chance that, as I write this, either Lamar or Khloe’s divorce lawyer is repeatedly banging his/her head on their desk. I say this because, as a California divorce attorney who has represented professional athletes, I’ve seen this song and dance before and it usually results in significant financial injury to one of the spouses.
I should be very clear about something from the start. California divorce attorneys have a duty to help their clients repair their marriages, if possible. I take this duty very seriously. In Lamar’s case, I would tell him that I encourage him to follow his heart, but I would have him make sure he understands the implications of resuscitating the marriage. I would also advise him not to make such a consequential decision at a time when his health is strongly compromised.
So what’s the big deal exactly? In California, the two most crucial dates in determining spousal support and the size of the community estate are the date of marriage and the date of separation.
What does “date of separation” really mean? In California, it is the “final and complete break” in the marriage. It was pretty easy to argue that there was a final and complete break in the marriage when the divorce was first filed in 2013. Now that Lamar and Khloe are reconciling, we seem pretty darn far from a “final and complete break” in the marriage. It’s even a bigger deal considering that they were “separate” for a considerable period of time before the divorce was filed.
With exceptions, most marriages in California require the higher earning spouse to pay the lower earning spouse support for half the length of the marriage. In other words, for every two days the date of separation is pushed back, that is one day of additional support for the supported spouse. I don’t know what Odom and Kardashian’s prenuptial agreement says about spousal support, but it might not matter because if it’s a really bad deal for one of the parties at the time of divorce, the court could throw it out anyway. More on this later.
We talked about support. Let’s talk about community property.
In California, all property acquired during marriage is presumed to be community property. That ends on the date of separation. If a spouse wins a $10 million lottery one week before the date of separation, only half of it is his/hers. However, if the spouse wins the lottery the week after separation, it’s all his/hers. I have never seen a case where someone has fought over the date of marriage. I have seen cases where hundreds of thousands of dollars were spent just to resolve the date of separation. It’s that important. Absent contrary language in a prenuptial agreement, the money earned up to their reconciliation will be presumed to be community property. That might result in a considerable swing, given that they were separated prior to the divorce and considering that the divorce had been pending for quite some time.
So Lamar’s going to get hosed if they eventually end up divorcing, right? Actually, it’s probably Khloe who is in the greater financial danger.
I don’t know exactly who is in worse shape, because I don’t know who has more money or the details of their prenup. Reports suggest that Lamar is worth close to $50 million while Khloe is worth close to $20 million. However, Lamar is retired while Khloe is enjoying tremendous success in the reality TV and business world. Furthermore, as I mentioned above, any restriction on spousal support could get thrown out if it is severely unfair at the time of divorce. Can you envision a scenario where Odom blows a significant amount of his money (not that he has been careless with his dough) a few years from now, while Khloe is sitting alongside her sisters atop their social/fashion media empire? I can. In that scenario, a judge could very well throw out any restrictions on spousal support and require Khloe to pay support to Lamar.
California divorce can get really, really complicated. I’ve simplified some of the concepts in this post. If you have questions about a divorce, please talk to an attorney.
Andrew J. Botros is an attorney with the Law Office of Nancy J. Bickford, APC, a San Diego law firm and has represented many professional athletes in divorce and paternity cases. He is a board certified divorce attorney, certified by the California State Bar’s Board of Legal Specialization. The Law Office of Nancy J. Bickford, APC, specializes in high-asset and high-income family law matters.