After a contentious divorce battle that dragged on for four years, Bethenny Frankel, the creator of the popular brand “Skinny Girl,” has now finalized her divorce from ex-husband Jason Hoppy. Although the Real Housewives of New York City cast member’s love story and conflict-ridden divorce is what tabloid dreams are made of, the issues involved in the protracted divorce negotiations, such as alimony, complex property distribution, and division of business assets, are common features of so many divorces, particularly those involving high profile individuals and high net worth couples.
Frankel’s divorce was settled outside of court through years of negotiation among the parties’ respective divorce attorneys. As a result, the settlement that they ultimately reached is confidential and remains undisclosed. Often, high profile individuals choose to pursue this route through divorce because cases that go to trial become part of the public record. In this article, we will examine some of the most critical points of contention in Frankel’s divorce, drawing correlations to many of the issues we see clients face every day.
Division of Business Assets
One of the primary sources of debate revolves around Bethenny’s business, Skinny Girl, which she sold for an esimated $100 million while married to Hoppy. Frankel was arguably building the business for years prior to her relationship but the brand did not reach its apex until after the marriage began. Frankel’s payout was to occur over multiple years, meaning it would serve as a source of income after the marriage ended. Hoppy played some role in business development and operations during the marriage. Of course, his contribution and entitlement to a share in the business proceeds was up for debate. Although this example involves higher than average sums of money, business owners who divorce face many similar issues. Key questions include: is your business marital or separate property? Is it subject to equitable distribution? How much did your spouse contribute to the success of your business? To how much of the business are each of you entitled?
Alimony and Child Support
In this case, the couple was married for three years before divorcing and they share a 6-year-old daughter. Bethenny is obviously the higher earning spouse, so it is likely to Hoppy sought alimony and child support. Unlike child support in New Jersey, the question of alimony is extremely nuanced, with no clear formula for determining the appropriate award in every case. Instead, the court provides a series of alimony factors that must be considered during alimony determinations, which are outlined in New Jersey’s alimony statute (N.J.S. 2A:34-23). These include: the duration of the marriage; the age, physical and emotional health of the parties; the standard of living established in the marriage and the likelihood that each party can maintain a reasonably comparable standard of living; and the parental responsibilities for the children.
It is unclear how the issue of alimony was resolved in this case, but in New Jersey, open durational alimony (with no fixed termination date) is not generally awarded in cases involving marriages that last less than 20 years. In addition, durational alimony (which is paid for a specific period of time) cannot exceed the length of the marriage unless exceptional circumstances exist. It is also important to consider that the marital standard of living established in Frankel’s marriage may not have reflected to influx of income that followed the sale of her business because the divorce began soon after the sale was finalized.
Complex Property Division and the Marital Home
Among the most contentious assets involved in the Frankel v. Hoppy divorce was the marital home, a multi-million dollar newly-renovated apartment in Tribeca. Following the initial divorce filing, Hoppy refused to vacate the home, maintaining it as his residence for the entirety of the divorce proceedings. Frankel left the home, staying in hotels for a number of years before purchasing another apartment. After announcing that the divorce was finalized, Bethenny disclosed that Hoppy had finally vacated the home and that she had returned. In so many cases, couples disagree about how their shared residence should be handled during the divorce. It is also common for one spouse to stay in the home as a means by which to establish leverage during divorce negotiations.
Your New Jersey Divorce
Perhaps you haven’t sold a business for $100 million, you’re not a reality star, and you don’t see your face plastered on magazine covers across the country. These specifics are irrelevant as you pursue a divorce, because nearly everyone who makes this difficult choice experiences some of the heartbreak and stress associated with the transition. When dealing with the divorce process, a knowledgeable and experienced attorney can serve as your most valuable asset, guiding, supporting, and advocating for you every step of the way. At Townsend, Tomaio & Newmark, our talented team of lawyers is honored to fill that role for thousands of clients across New Jersey. Contact us today for your cost-free consultation.
For additional information pertaining to this case, access the following article: Bethenny Frankel Settles Nearly 4-Year Divorce Battle with Ex Jason Hoppy