What's Mine is Not Yours: Lisa Marie Presley's Husband Plays Loose with their Money
After 10 years of marriage, Lisa Marie Presley, Elvis' 48 year old daughter, has filed for divorce from musician husband, Michael Lockwood. Presley initially cited irreconcilable differences for the separation - stating that she was uninterested in Lockwood's money, and did not want any child or spousal support.
TMZ however, has recently reported that Presley's filing for divorce was motivated by suspicions that Lockwood had been playing "fast and loose" with her money. The couple supposedly had a postnuptial agreement, according to which, all the 'Elvis money' was hers. Nonetheless, throughout their marriage, Lockwood reportedly managed the couple's finances. After their relationship started to deteriorate however, Presley noticed things... in particular, an enormous - upwards of $109,000 - American Express bill.
Presley's lawyer commented, "(Lockwood) didn’t do what he should have done on a fiduciary basis", and further stated, "he took advantage of her". Presley's legal team has consequently hired a forensic accounting team, and are determined to find out where all the money went during their marriage.
In Ontario, courts have affirmed that where separation is certain, both spouses have a fiduciary duty not to deplete their assets or net family properties. Although the Family Law Act (FLA) provides that divorcing spouses are legally entitled to an equal division of all property acquired during a marriage, section 5(6)(b) provides that where one spouse intentionally or recklessly depletes the family's assets or incurs debts and other liabilities in bad faith, the other spouse may be entitled to an unequal division of marital properties.
An intentional or reckless depletion of assets - such that it warrants an unequal division of property - requires the physical destruction or transfer of property with an intention or aim to reduce the other spouse's legitimate expectations.
And so, if Presley is able to show that Lockwood spent her (or the family's) monies with the intention of depleting the Elvis money that he had no entitlement to, she may be able to get back all or most of what he hastily and carelessly spent. However, if Lockwood is able to show that the depletion was a result of poor financial judgement, Presley may be out of luck.
Regardless of its outcome, this Presley-Lockwood kerfuffle has some important takeaways: For all the Lockwoods out there, managing their family's finances, it is generally advisable that during a divorce or separation, you maintain the financial status quo: continue to use and pay back credit cards and other loans as per normal; avoid overspending, making large investments, or withdrawing excessively from credit accounts; and refrain from selling assets, cancelling credit cards, or defaulting on loans. For all the Presleys out there, far removed from their family's financial dealings, it is wise that you nonetheless have a basic understanding of your marital assets and debts; for having little to no knowledge about your family's spending or financial circumstances can be a serious disadvantage and can unnecessarily stall divorce proceedings or negotiations.