Actress Ashley Judd and professional race car driver, Dario Franchitti, announced their separation this week, after 11 years of marriage. After a fairytale wedding in Scotland, and years of Judd devotedly attending Franchitti's races, it appears as though the pair plan to remain friends, but not married. As most family law practitioners know, dissolving relationships sometimes start amicably, and end elsewhere, once reality sets in.
The pair did not have children, so child support will be a non-issue in their matrimonial matter. However, equalization of net family property and spousal support may be the points at which the pair begin to butt heads.
Although a well renowned actress, Judd's career has somewhat fizzled in the recent years. Why? Recently Judd has become involved in political causes, and humanitarian work however, she may assert that she intentionally sacrificed her career to play her most important role yet-'The Doting Wife'. On February 7, speculation was swirling that Judd may run for the US Senate, for Kentucky on the Democratic ticket. Judd was often shown in the media cheering on Franchitti during his races and standing by his side during his many wins.
In Canada, the Divorce Act and applicable case law, stipulates that spousal support is determined by the condition, means, needs and other circumstances of each spouse, including: a) the length of time the spouses cohabitated; b) the functions performed by each spouse during cohabitation; and c) any order, agreement or arrangement relating to support either spouse. To determine the entitlement of support, all of these factors are analyzed alongside the parties' current income.
Accordingly, one can presume that based upon recent trends in their careers, Franchitti will be the payor of support, since his current income is higher than Judd's.
However, Franchitti may argue that Judd has a higher net worth based upon her historically booming career (many would agree that in the 90s she was a household name). This argument may prove valid in minimizing Judd's need for support. He may further argue that her earning potential also minimizes her claim for support due to the fact that it is possible that she may re-launch her career.
Judd may respond by asserting that her earning potential is substantially minimized by the years she spent focusing on Franchitti's career, rather than her own. After all it has been quite some time since she starred in a blockbuster hit.
Although these are hypothetical arguments, in practice they are raised quite often. Judges have discretion regarding whether or not to award support, and the amount to be awarded, but will consider the factors and assertions outlined above.
Equalization, which is another potentially contentious topic for the two, is determined by valuing the parties' assets acquired during the marriage, which is also known as the parties' marital property. Once each parties' marital property is valued, and applicable exclusions are applied, the spouse with the higher net family property pays the spouse with the lower net family property, one half of the difference.
Friendship aside, this dissolving marriage may not be as simple and amicable as Judd and Franchitti may think. The complexities of ending an 11-year marriage may be the biggest test of their relationship yet.