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Terrence Howard, Michelle Ghent in spousal support dispute

Two wrongs do not make a right, and this holds true in many disputes that can take place during divorce proceedings. California is a no-fault divorce state; however, that does not mean that one spouse may not behave illegally toward his or her estranged spouse in order to secure a better financial settlement. A case demonstrating how this can play out in relation to spousal support was recently ruled upon in the Los Angeles Superior Court.

Actor Terrence Howard divorced from his second wife, Michelle Ghent, some time ago. He signed an agreement for spousal support at that time, which he now alleges he signed under duress. The actor claims that his ex-wife was effectively blackmailing him by threatening to publish video and audio material that would be embarrassing to the actor and would tarnish his character. Since the actor's appearance in a successful television series, his ex-wife has demanded an increase in spousal support; however, she did not appear in court to deny the accusation, and the judge therefore found in Howard's favor.

The judge accepted that Ms. Ghent's actions amounted to extortion; nevertheless, he also acknowledged that Mr. Howard had been guilty of unbecoming behavior around the same time. The fact that the actor also attempted to play down some of his more public outbursts did not show him in a good light, but this did not mean that he was incapable of becoming the victim of his ex-wife's attempt at bullying. A new spousal support agreement will now have to be drawn up, and, at this time, it is thought that the actor's earnings from his hit TV show will not form a part of it.

While it is acceptable to arm oneself with as much information as possible in order to support a claim for spousal support, one must be careful to stay within the legal parameters. If personal circumstances change for California residents, then it is not unreasonable to want to revisit the subject in order to create a better outcome, even after some time has passed since the divorce. As circumstances vary from case to case, it is important to seek the advice appropriate to one's own situation.

Source: International Business Times, "'Empire' Star Terrence Howard Referred To As 'Bully'; Wins Legal Battle With Ex-Wife Michelle Ghent", Brett Bodner, Aug. 25, 2015

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