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Ashton, Demi, and Divorce in Minnesota

December 4, 2013 by  
Filed under Divorce, Family Law

What Ashton and Demi can teach about divorce in Minnesota

My wife informed me that actor Ashton Kutcher, 35, and actress Demi Moore, 51, recently finalized their divorce.  The couple married in 2005 and separated in 2011.  Ashton filed for divorce at the end of 2012.  The couple were married and divorced in California.

First, California, like Minnesota, is a “no-fault” divorce state.  In fact, California was the first state to adopt the no-fault divorce idea in 1969. 

“No-fault” divorce means that either party may request and get a divorce by simply alleging that the marriage has broken down and cannot be saved. 

Neither husband nor wife needs show that the other party was at fault or responsible for the divorce.  Practically, this takes spousal misbehavior out of the divorce equation (with the notable exception of domestic abuse).

Second, Demi was asking for alimony or “spousal maintenance”, which involves one spouse paying the other after the divorce.

In Minnesota, in order to establish the need for any spousal maintenance, the requesting party must show that he or she needs the extra income and the other party has the ability to pay the extra income.

In the Demi-Ashton matter, Demi actually had more assets than Ashton, so eventually she dropped this request as part of the divorce settlement.

Third, the finalization of the divorce was approved by a California judge and entered as a judgment into the court record.  

This is the same in Minnesota.  Here, a judge must ultimately approve of a divorce, either by judicial decision if it’s contested, or by signing off on a settlement agreement between the parties.  When the divorce decree is entered, usually within a week or two after the divorce, the divorce is official.

Finally, Ashton is now engaged to Mila Kunis, another actress and former co-star of “That 70’s Show” with Ashton.  Reportedly Ashton had wanted to marry Mila earlier but couldn’t because his marriage with Demi was still in effect.

This illustrates the idea that polygamy, or marriage to more than one person at the same time, is not legal.  This is true in Minnesota as well.  If someone marries, then marries again while the first marriage is still in effect, the second marriage is automatically void as a matter of Minnesota law and can be annulled.

The proper course in this situation would be to correctly get a divorce in Minnesota and then “re-marry” the second spouse.

Regardless of all of these illustrations, hopefully Ashton will have better luck with Mila.  However, given the nature of Hollywood marriages, my wife is not optimistic.



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