Debra Messing Files for Divorce

After nearly twelve years of marriage Debra Messing and husband Daniel Zelman are calling it quits. 


Messing and Zelman say the split is amicable and that they intend to remain close friends as they raise their son together. The two announced their separation six months ago. Ironically, immediately following this announcement, Messing began dating her new Smash co-star, Will Chase. The divorce petition filed by Messing on Tuesday June 5, 2012 lists the commonly cited “irreconcilable differences” as the reason for the divorce.

Interestingly, the requisite divorce paperwork lists the couple’s date of separation as February 15, 2010 as opposed to the officially announced date six months prior to the divorce petition. A couple’s date of separation may have a dramatic impact on the division of marital property. All property acquired before the marriage and after the date of separation is generally separate property and confirmed to the earning spouse upon divorce. In contrast, generally all property acquired during the marriage is community property and usually divided equally between the spouses. Any earnings or acquisitions after 2012 of either Hollywood star would remain that spouse’s property upon divorce. This includes any proceeds Messing is entitled to resulting from her role on the hit show Smash. Despite the alleged date of separation, the couple remained living together until recently, which may impact the determination of a true date of separation if Zelman decides to contest this issue.

Messing is seeking joint custody of her eight-year-old son and has released a statement that her and her husband intend to make this divorce as smooth as possible for their son and are completely on the same page to do what is best for him. She also claimed that despite the now pending divorce, the whole family is thriving. Unfortunately in most situations divorce can deeply impact all children involved. Maintaining stability in child’s life is one effective way to help him or her cope with the other changes. Another important step that can help children with the transition is effective co-parenting between the divorcing spouses. This involves frequent communication about the child, coordination of schedules and the ability to amicably resolve conflict.

According to the divorce petition, Messing is requesting both child and spousal support. Many speculate that this request was merely a formality and that Messing is not in fact expecting financial support from her husband. Since the decision to file for divorce was “mutual” between Messing and Zelman, it is possible that the two have already discussed any support issues and agreed on an arrangement. Neither party has confirmed or denied the existence of a premarital agreement, which also has the potential to affect the outcome of the divorce proceedings. An enforceable premarital agreement can protect the assets of the parties.

Please contact us if you are considering a divorce from your spouse, a legal separation, or have questions regarding child custody and visitation. Nancy J. Bickford is the only attorney in San Diego County representing clients in divorces, who is a Certified Family Law Specialist (CFLS) and who is actively licensed as a Certified Public Accountant (CPA). Don’t settle for less when determining your rights. Call 858-793-8884 in Del Mar, Carmel Valley, North County or San Diego.

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