Real Housewife of Orange County Vicki Gunvalson is joining her Beverly Hills counterpart Camille Grammar as a recent blonde divorcé. Vicki filed for divorce from her husband Donn in October 2010 after 17 years of marriage. Although the couple continued to live together throughout the divorce process they are adamant that reconciliation is not in the works. In fact, Vicki has been dating a new man, Brooks Ayers.
The Gunvalson’s agreed to proceed with their divorce using mediation. Currently, the two are still working out all the details of their divorce settlement but have reached an agreement regarding one very large asset. The family home, shown often on The Real Housewives of Orange County, will be awarded solely to Vicki. Vicki and Donn attempted to sell the 5,400 square foot mansion for $2.695 million last year. Although this asset is just one consideration in a portfolio likely filled with numerous assets and debts, it is a victory for Vicki.
Under California community property laws, the court will generally apportion the community estate as equally as possible. Considering the length of the Gunvalson’s marriage and the legal repercussions of a long-term marriage in California, the two likely have amassed a considerable community estate to be divided. As a general rule, each asset is individually divided in half. In the case of a mansion like the one involved in the Gunvalson divorce, the sale of the mansion would likely result in the most even distribution. After the sale, the court could easily divide the proceeds in half.
As an exception to the general rule, the court may award the family home entirely to one spouse if the couple’s children would be uprooted by the sale of the home. The court will then offset the award of the home to one spouse with other property in the estate. Thus, the division of the total estate is equal although particular assets may be awarded disproportionately. Because the Gunvalson’s have decided to mediate their divorce, they have the option to divide the property however they wish regardless of community property presumptions. Unlike in the Grammer divorce, the Gunvalson’s are not in a rush to terminate their marital status, they are slowing working through each issue in the mediation process.
The couple also has the option to decide any spousal support to be paid by one spouse to the other. Spousal support was a hotly contested issue shown on the Real Housewives as Vicki fought against paying any to Donn. Mediation allows the couple to take more control of the divorce process rather than leaving decisions open to the judge’s discretion. A family court judge is guided by basic principles of California family law; however, he or she has wide discretion to apply these principles.
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 lawyer 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.