Legal Blog: RHONY’s Bethenny Frankel Ordered By Court To Pay Estranged Hubby $100K in Legal Fees

Posted on May 13 2015 - 8:57am by Stacy Slotnick, Esq.

All About The Tea_bethenny-frankel-jason-hoppy

Lawsuits are about as ubiquitous in the life of the “Real Housewives of New York,” star Bethenny Frankel as yellow taxicabs are on the Upper East Side.  You win some, you lose some.  In one recent food litigation skirmish, Amy Langendorf agreed to drop her federal lawsuit that claimed Frankel’s Skinnygirl Margarita cocktail is advertised as “all natural” but contains a non-natural preservative. U.S. District Judge Manish S. Shah dismissed the suit with prejudice. As for Frankel’s divorce against estranged spouse Jason Hoppy, the branding maven doesn’t appear to be getting off so easy.

We all know the stereotypes of divorce: a cheating spouse, lack of trust and communication, addiction, financial difficulties, and fighting over unfulfilled goals. Imagine how complicated it is for public figures who have decided matrimony (at least with each other) isn’t for them. In the world of high-stakes divorce, the battle being waged by Skinnygirl Cocktails founder Bethenny Frankel and Jason Hoppy just took another sharp turn.

Frankel has been ordered to pay the pharmaceutical salesman $100,000 in lawyer fees by June 1. Frankel’s net worth has been estimated to be at least $25 million but that number could spiral downward what with the $3,000 a month in child support for Bryn and about $12,000 in monthly alimony she’s been ordered to pay Hoppy, according to the New York Post. Frankel also has to put up the $11,000 per month it costs to maintain the former couple’s $5 million Tribeca residence that is 3,400-square-feet of luxury.

For self-help author Frankel, all the aforementioned numbers give new meaning to the phrase, “Breaking up is hard to do.”  It isn’t that Frankel is in a financially precarious predicament now that her husband has been awarded $100,000 in counsel fees but is the fact that Frankel has to foot most of the bills justified?   

Under New York law, the wealthier spouse must cough up lawyer fees and temporary child support and alimony. According to court documents, Hoppy “lacks sufficient funds of his own to compensate counsel without depleting his assets.”   

bethenny-frankel-bryn-hoppy-and-jason-hoppy

Hoppy apparently paid his former lawyers just over $300,000, and he owes them nearly $87,000. Since then, Hoppy has secured new legal representation to fight Frankel, which necessarily meant paying a retainer of $50,000. As for his own liquidity, some sources suggest Hoppy wouldn’t be able to secure funds to rent his and Frankel’s mansion in the sky let alone a studio apartment with communal bathroom and scenic view of a brick wall.

Things aren’t any rosier for the Forbes cover girl. Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Ellen Gesmer hasn’t looked favorably upon the I Suck at Relationships So You Don’t Have To writer. “It’s not a joke. Her child is not a joke. No more pajamas!” Justice Ellen Gesmer warned Frankel’s attorney, Allan Mayefsky, in court after Mayefsky tried to explain away his client’s behavior (wearing Bryn’s PJs and posting online “This is my daughter’s nightgown and PJ shorts. Think we’re ready to start sharing clothes yet?”). 

Bethenny Frankel_RHONY

The Court did not award counsel fees in the amount of $100,000 to Frankel’s soon-to-be ex-husband because it had an extreme revulsion toward Frankel’s wired antics. In matrimonial actions, courts are authorized to award counsel fees when there is a significant disparity of financial resources between spouses. New York Domestic Relations Law permits courts to discretionarily award attorney fees to enable a spouse to pursue an action for divorce or defend against an action for divorce. 

Jason did not have to prove poverty in order to receive an award of attorney fees. On the contrary, the goal behind the law in New York is to guarantee the litigation is shaped not by the power of the purse but rather the evidence produced and expert testimony presented. The parties and their attorneys are required to submit a sworn statement, or affidavit, to the court with financial information/disclosures, including the fees of each party’s counsel. Those proofs shall enable the court to make a counsel fee determination.

In October of 2010, the New York legislature amended the law and included a mandate that creates a rebuttable presumption that counsel fees will be awarded to the “less monied” spouse, which in this instance is Hoppy. Effective October 12, 2010, the Domestic Relations Law §237 and §238 requires “the Court in a matrimonial case …involving the parties with greatly unequal financial resources, to order the monied party to pay counsel fees for the non monied party during the course of the case so as to enable her or him to defend it.”

Generally speaking, the Court considers the spouse with the greater income, earning power, and assets to be the “monied spouse.” Prior to this amendment, the burden would have been on Hoppy (the “less monied spouse”) to prove to the Court why Frankel should pay his expenses and fees. Now, courts presume the monied spouse should pay the less monied spouse counsel fees but that presumption may be rebutted.

Here is something I want to ask All About the Tea posters: When these laws seek to equalize the parties’ incomes by ordering the monied spouse to pay counsel fees, child support, and other add-on expenses of the less monied spouse, is this redistribution objective appropriate? How the extremely wealthy disassemble their marriages is indeed worthy of a second look.

American actress Mae West famously remarked, “Marriage is a great institution, but I’m not ready for an institution.” My guess is Bethenny Frankel today sees marriage as an unholy alliance and a club she has zero interest in joining.  Grab your gavel, join the conversation, and let us know what you think about the $100,000 award of counsel fees to Jason Hoppy and this scandal-filled divorce in general.

 

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About the Author

Stacy Slotnick, a.k.a. The Foxy Jurist, holds a J.D., cum laude, from Touro Law Center and a B.A., summa cum laude, from the University of Massachusetts Amherst Commonwealth Honors College. Stacy is the recipient of the Honors Deans Award; Simon and Satenig Ermonian Memorial Scholarship; College of Social and Behavioral Sciences Opportunity Scholarship; and College of Humanities and Fine Arts Scholarship. She is also a William F. Field Alumni Scholar, an honor bestowed upon the most academically distinguished students. In law school, Stacy won two CALI Excellence For The Future Awards® and received an Achievement Scholarship. She is a member of the New York Bar. As an entertainment lawyer, Stacy counsels clients on contracts, branding, and public relations strategy. She negotiates with agents, producers, production companies, and lawyers to secure rights to projects on behalf of high-profile clients. Her clever, spirited, no holds barred legal analysis can be found in articles for The Huffington Post. * Facebook
 
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  • Ilivehereandlikeit

    If the monied spouse thing is the law, then it’s the law whether Bethanny likes it or not, agrees with it or not, or whatever. IMO, the law exists to help get the deed done, the divorce over. Puts both parties on a more equal footing to negotiate and complete the process.

    Then after divorce is finalized, my advice to both of them: MOVE ON.

    • Stacy Slotnick

      You rule swiftly and without hesitation. 🙂 Thanks for providing a well-reasoned opinion of the case. Does it make a difference, in your mind, that Bethenny and Jason were married for just over two years before they separated? Does that change the way the Court should look at spousal support, child support, legal fees, etc.?

      • Ilivehereandlikeit

        I don’t think it’s so much the amount of time they were together but the amount of….I’m trying to think of the right word here…attachments they shared that were a part of that marriage? They had a child during the marriage and they worked for the same company during the marriage. Well I believe Jason did some type of work for Bethanny’s company, correct?

        So child support, even spousal support really stands on it’s own, depending on what each brings to the table. The legal fees? It seems that the monied spouse law covers that.

        • Stacy Slotnick

          Yes, Jason did work for Skinnygirl during their marriage and his attorney will argue he contributed to its success. There are still a lot of items to be divided like marital property, retirement funds, business assets, investments, etc. Some states consider the length of the marriage for distributing property and assets. In California, if the marriage is considered of “long duration,” meaning that the couple was married for 10 years or longer, the court may award alimony for an extended period of time. If there are children of the marriage, as in this instance, it is more likely to be treated like a long marriage with equal division most likely.

          • Just a jersey girl

            Wow Stacy,
            I do not think that is fair. I think the apartment should be sold and the proceeds split, and Jason should get no more than 3 years alimony.
            When I was married the first time I made more money than my ex he threatened me with alimony if I tried to take any part of his business. I settled because the legal costs and forensic audit would have killed me financially. I had two small children to think about.

          • Stacy Slotnick

            Thank you so much for sharing your personal experiences to help shed light on the economics (and emotions) of divorce. I am sorry for what you had to go through but I hope you came out of it stronger and more confident.

            Spousal maintenance awarded after a judgment of divorce is also known as rehabilitative maintenance and it allows a spouse to achieve financial independence and a specific dollar amount will be awarded for a specific duration of time.

            As of October 12, 2010, New York has enacted temporary spousal support guidelines that determine the amount of support based upon a formula using a percentage of each spouse’s income. The formula provides that temporary maintenance should be the lesser of either: 1) Thirty percent of the higher-earning spouse’s income, minus 20 percent of the lower-earning spouse’s income, or 2) Forty percent of their combined income, minus the lower-earning spouse’s income.

          • Just a jersey girl

            Thank you Stacy, I did and I might have lost some money but I saved myself a ton of heartache, and was able to move on with my life.

          • Stacy Slotnick

            I am glad to hear it. 🙂 Emotional health is greatly undervalued in this world. Bethenny might consider making an offer to make this divorce go away. It may save her considerable heartache as you well noted.

      • Guardian

        I am guessing there was no pre-nup since she was building her biz when they married? Regardless, this is one of those times when the woman has to pay up. I do think there should be some sort of sliding scale with regard to number of years married – with or without children. I think things should be fair but I think he is bordering on vindictive. I would like to know if he is working or if this is his only job if you will. I’m not a big fan of BF, but unlike him, though she will take a big hit, if anyone will/can move forward and prosper, it will be her. Always amazes me how these things play out – he’s lucky IMO as the rulings don’t always go in the favor of the one with less.

        • Stacy Slotnick

          Excellent remarks, Guardian. Thank you for sharing. A few follow-up comments:

          -The couple signed a prenuptial agreement back in 2010 before their marriage in March of that year. The prenup reportedly outlined that all of Bethenny’s business deals, endorsements, and Skinnygirl, are hers. However, the prenup was apparently modified after the couple got married.

          -I agree that the Court should take into account the number of years a couple has been married when determining support issues and legal fees. It doesn’t make sense that a couple married 2 years should divide assets and responsibilities in the same way a couple who was married for 25 years should.

          -Some reports say Jason isn’t employed or that he’s underemployed. What we do know for a fact — because the Court said so — is Jason “lacks sufficient funds of his own to compensate counsel without depleting his assets.”

          • Guardian

            Thank you for the response. I think Jason’s only real financial asset is/was Bethenny.

          • Stacy Slotnick

            You are very welcome. I am equally enamored by your straightforward and sincere response, “Jason’s only real asset is Bethenny.”

          • Guardian

            Buyer beware in all matters – especially when choosing a spouse. While you imagine being married, imagine the divorce because it’s right around 50-50. Not easy thoughts when you love someone and see a future with them. However, watch and learn and don’t succumb to pressure because that is a red flag. Hate is not the opposite of love, indifference is. And, I’ve seen few divorces that begin and end with indifference.

          • Stacy Slotnick

            Thank you for your wise thoughts on the subject. Not every couple can consciously uncouple à la Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin. Instead, many divorce lawyers say that animosity (and indifference) carries the day. Bravo discussed in its reality show, “Untying the Knot,” that couples do unfortunately end up divorcing 50 percent of the time. The good news is that those who married in the 2000s are so far divorcing at lower rates. Your point is very well taken that indifference rather than hate can spell the end of a union.

          • Ilivehereandlikeit

            Stacey, who filed for divorce in this union?

          • Stacy Slotnick

            Good question. After the Skinnygirl mogul filed for divorce from Jason in January of 2013, the pharmaceutical executive counter-filed. Hoppy sought primary custody of Bryn, child support from his ex, and asked for medical and dental expenses for himself and for Bryn. He also requested “exclusive use and occupancy of the marital residence” (Tribeca apartment) and for Bethenny to maintain a life insurance policy on herself, making him and Bryn beneficiaries.

          • Ilivehereandlikeit

            Thanks for answering my question on who filed for divorce!

            OK this may sound harsh (because it is – lol) but when you enter into a marriage contract and then want to be released from said contract, you are going to be required to pony up some cash. This is nothing new or unique to their situation.

            I obviously haven’t followed this case but what I’m reading above about Hoppy’s counter-filed requests, these all sound pretty standard in a contested divorce. Whether he gets any or all or part of all, well that remains to be seen. It’s interesting to read all the legal maneuvering taking place on both sides.

          • Stacy Slotnick

            We here at AATT welcome your comments and opinions! Without a robust dialogue, there would be no enlightenment on the subject so thank you for your insights about this divorce case.

            In the sense that counsel fees are designed to create parity in divorce litigation and to prevent a monied spouse from wearing down a non-monied spouse, this is a desirable goal, no question. In ordering Bethenny to pay Jason $100,000 in counsel fees, the Court necessarily considered such factors as the difficulty of the legal questions involved; the skill required to handle the case; specifics as to the time and labor required; the attorney’s experience, ability and reputation; and the customary fee charged for similar services, which in Manhattan is considerable.

      • American Woman

        I absolutely think so, for what it’s worth.

  • Norrth

    I think every state should enact this law to protect the spouse with the fewest resources from becoming fodder in the courtroom. Since she’s paying all of the expenses of living in the apartment, I’m not sure why he needs 12k a month in support, along with child support. Is he now a stay at home dad?

    I like that Bethenny is who she is while filming the show. I wonder how well it will play out in the courtroom. I think her attorneys will have one hell of a time convincing a judge that she uses a very different tone with her daughter than she does with everyone else if the cameras are catching the real Bethenny.

    • Stacy Slotnick

      Norrth, many people would agree with you that 12K/month in alimony is outrageous and he should be able to take part of that “income” and use it for his legal fees. The fact is because he is the less monied spouse, the Court tries to level the playing field.

      There is no question what lives and breathes on social media and on TV can influence a judge. The post regarding her daughter’s PJs was in poor taste for someone going through a public divorce and custody battle, although the parties have agreed to shared custody. But there is also no doubt Jason will try and use Bethenny’s high-profile to show the Court that she’s making all this money so she deserves to pay up.

  • Lucy94

    Hi Stacy! Here’s my question. Bethenny is considered to be the “monied spouse”, so does this give Jason the right to go out and hire the most expensive lawyers he can find knowing she will be footing the bill? Lawyers, if he had to pay on his own, he could never afford? The best of the best because money is of no object?

    • Stacy Slotnick

      That is a very sound point, Lucy94. Jason could hire the most prestigious counsel from the preeminent white-shoe divorcee law firm in Manhattan now that Bethenny has been ordered to pay his legal fees. There are no impediments to him retaining the best of the best (and most expensive) legal counsel. Considering Judge Gesmer declared that Hoppy “lacks sufficient funds of his own to compensate
      counsel without depleting his assets,” he probably could not afford his current representation. What do you think?

      • Lucy94

        Absolutely! If I were Bethenny, I would move heaven and earth to try and reach a settlement. IMO they are both vengeful. Just suck it up and write the check. It would KILL me knowing I was paying for the services of the people getting paid to fight ME. WTH??? But, it being these two, Brynn will probably turn 18 and they’ll still not be divorced. Isn’t there something where the judge can grant a divorce and try the assets separately?

        • Stacy Slotnick

          Sometimes throwing money at the problem is the best way to deal with divorce. Money may be able to buy Bethenny some peace of mind and allow both parties to move on. No doubt she and her attorney have discussed “a number” that would make Jason walk away. But sometimes parties in a divorce need to hit their breaking point before they settle, and Bethenny and Jason may not yet be there however they are probably close. The Court may grant a divorce and then divide assets and property.

          If parties don’t feel they are getting a fair hearing, they can always try to negotiate a divorce settlement. Couples that elect to create a post-marital agreement can divide their assets in the manner that best fits their situation. State rules are used by courts to divide assets, but couples can diverge from those rules to divide their assets as they see fit.

          The vast majority of divorces end in a negotiated settlement. Very few divorces actually go all the way through trial but if they do, the judge hears evidence and legal arguments from both sides before making a decision.

  • Just a jersey girl

    Stacy, I thought Jason owned rental properties when they first got married. I remember he was worth approximately $5M. Could this mean that he would have to sell his rental property to pay for his legal fees.

    • Stacy Slotnick

      Jason may indeed have owned rental properties but I cannot speak to that detail. If he were worth $5M, the judge would not have ordered Bethenny to pay his legal fees. I have a feeling that number is inflated. The judge has not ordered him to dispose of any property to cover his counsel fees but that is a great question. (Speaking of property, Bethenny did file a motion for exclusive occupancy of the 3,400 square foot luxury Tribeca loft she shares with Jason.)

      • Nancy Krystofik

        What is happening with her new Soho place? She still wants him out of the TriBeCa place so she can live there, she has said its her dream home. And she has her home in the Hamptons, that’s a lot of homes to take care off. Will Bethenny buy Jason out of the home he is in eventually, or is she fighting to just get him out, and not pay him. Thanks Stacy!

        • Stacy Slotnick

          Great question! The property will have to be divided by the Court and/or resolved through settlement negotiations. They could agree that Jason gets the Tribeca pad and Bethenny gets the Hamptons property or they could agree to sell everything and divide the assets accordingly. When a couple divorces under New York law, the court must divide their marital property equitably, or fairly. This doesn’t necessarily require an equal split of the couple’s assets.

          Now the $4.2M Soho apartment was purchased after the separation, so Jason would have no claim to that real estate. Only marital property is divided by the court. Each spouse gets to keep his or her own separate property. Marital property includes all property acquired by either or both parties during the marriage, regardless of the form in which title is held.

          • cait

            I thought Bethenny bought the loft, before she got with “Grabsome” Prob wrong !

          • Stacy Slotnick

            Good question. According to public records, a limited-liability company named Beyond Hudson closed on the condo in September of 2014, paying $4.2 million. September of 2013 would be post-separation.

      • Just a jersey girl

        Thank you Stacy, I think that number is over inflated too. It would be interesting if we could find out what he had before he met Bethenny.

        • Stacy Slotnick

          You are entirely welcome. The idea is that Bethenny doesn’t think Jason, who could be gainfully employed what with his experience in pharmaceutical sales (which is a thriving industry today) is entitled to her millions. She wrote those bestselling books and founded Skinnygirl. Someone might be putting soundbites out there to the media regarding Jason’s liquidity but who knows if those figures are accurate?

  • cheryl

    There is also a coercive side to Jason being “equalized” at Bethennys expense. It puts pressure on her to settle and give in to Jason who wants the Tribeca loft. She is basically paying Jason’s attorney fees to fight her for the loft. I do not think he should get it. It should be sold.

    • Stacy Slotnick

      I agree. The redistribution of wealth model under New York Domestic Relations Law is not altogether “fair” or “decent” considering equalizing the parties does quite the opposite. It may force Bethenny to make decisions she would not otherwise have made and it doesn’t matter whether Jason is trying to find employment or make enough to cover his legal bills. Granted, legal edicts are oftentimes unfair and imbalanced but should the monied spouse have to settle for inaction on the part of the less monied spouse? Certainly there is value to be placed on Jason’s role as a caregiver to Bryn (if that is the case) but there are no easy answers here.

    • American Woman

      Completely agree.She gets to pay someone to fight against her.

  • Nancy Krystofik

    It seems to me Bethenny brought this “nasty custody divorce battle” on herself with her demands at the beginning of the separation. It was like a no win situation suing Jason for sole custody. If she wouldn’t of done that, the divorce could be over by now. The reasons she did that if I remember correctly, is because she wanted to move to California for her talk show. She also wanted to introduce that shady boyfriend into the little girls life, and Jason had to fight her for things that could of been handled differently for both of their benefit. Guess the Jet-set lifestyle isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Shame it didn’t work out, especially for Bryn.

    • Stacy Slotnick

      Oftentimes children are used as pawns in a game when their parents are divorcing. Whether that occurred here can be debated. When it was publicly announced that the couple would have shared custody of Bryn, Jason’s lawyer stated: “My client is delighted that this custody dispute has been resolved; that his co-parenting status has been acknowledged; that the parties’ child will have the benefit of being raised by both parents; and most importantly, that his daughter will no longer be at the mercy of a high profile courtroom battle.” Those are telling words. Both parents have equal time with and decision-making authority over Bryn. How that will translate into real world progress when Bryn’s parents appear to detest one another remains to be seen.

      • cait

        That’s the bit that worries me, Stacy ! If Bryn, now, or later hears how much they hate each other, she will be devastated as she is half of both of them ! Daddy hates half of me, and Mommy hates half of me !
        My sons, late teens, were very clear, to both of us, when I decamped. “If you bad-mouth him, or he bad-mouths you, you’re done, ‘cos we don’t deserve that”

        • Stacy Slotnick

          I completely agree with you. A child needs reinforcement to understand that the divorce isn’t about them and consequently, parents badmouthing one another leads to resentment and the severing of ties. Thank you a million for sharing your own story. How are things with your sons today? I can empathize with them entirely, as I took a very hardline stance too with my parents, whose divorce was finalized earlier this year. The different way each parent handled the divorce with us “kids” has most definitely impacted relationships. The name-calling and badmouthing does not positively position one parent over another — in fact, quite the opposite is true.

          • cait

            I was so vulnerable at the time, and had so much to say, so the warning was timely ! Myself and ex can now be friendly at family events, because of the boys’ continuing input ! Sadly, we did love each other, but didn’t LIKE each other ! Wonder if that’s what happened to Beth and her man !
            Sorry you’ve had to go through all this yourself !
            Oddly the son who was living at home with us, said “About time” The one who was away, at college, for a couple of years, was miffed !
            Michael and Anthony are amazing sons, and now that I’m older, they think they’re MY BOSS ! In your dreams boys !

          • Stacy Slotnick

            I am so glad things worked out for the best and there is peace and civility. I like your phrase, “we did love each other, but we didn’t LIKE each other.” That is a very poignant statement. Michael and Anthony sound like true gentlemen and very bright individuals. I think us “kids” of divorced parents have a lot in common, and we just want our parents to find happiness and be kind when referencing each other. Thank you again for sharing!

          • cait

            My pleasure, Stacy ! Keep those parents in check, in your own sweet way. We sometimes need taming !

          • Stacy Slotnick

            Thanks for the lovely words. They mean more than you know.

  • Brattus Rattus

    All I know is I have worked my butt off for 26 years to make the money I make now. I would never get married again. Reasons like this are why. Well, that and my ex-husband scarred me for life. LOL
    PRE-NUP people. I don’t know when folks will ever learn.

    • Babson_Chick

      sounds like me – have been single again for years and plan to stay that way. Also some guys I have met wanted to move in and that will never happen

      • Brattus Rattus

        Or they want to move in to my house. Hell’s no. That’s NEVER going to happen. So I can what? Clean up after you? LOL Nope. Men are for playing with.
        Forgive me. It’s been a long and trying month. The male species has sucked the life out of me.

        • Babson_Chick

          Yes that is what I meant – no one is moving in with me and I don’t plan being a cook, a nurse or a purse to a male. It took me a long time to pick up the pieces and move on and now I enjoy traveling whenever I want. Hope things improve for you – know they will!! 🙂

    • Stacy Slotnick

      Thank you for your thoughts, Brattus Rattus! So long as the prenuptial agreement is fair and reasonable at the time of the making and it is not unconscionable, it will likely be enforced. However, we have learned that while Bethenny and Jason had a prenup, they modified it after their marriage. Prenups are very advisable no matter how little or how much money and assets one has pre-marriage. If you have a career, you should protect it. If you give up a career to become a stay-at-home parent, make sure you are protected financially. A prenup should include a clause that might guarantee levels of support after a certain number of years of marriage, or perhaps a percentage of income may be shared per an agreed-upon formula. On a personal note, I am sorry to hear you were scarred by your ex but hopefully you came out of the marriage on the other side and are happier now than you were in the marriage.

      • Brattus Rattus

        ok… then I amend my statement to never get married. LOL
        Oh, honey, me divorcing my ex is the best thing that ever happened to me. I look at men differently now and, although I’m scarred from his bitch ass cheating ways, I’ll never fall for that mess again.
        I love when you post. You’re always so professional. Even when I take a break from my professional side and come here to post my tirades.

        • Stacy Slotnick

          I am equally enamored with your posts that are extremely thoughtful. I don’t see any “tirades” among your musings. Thank you for the compliments, as I appreciate tremendously your remarks. You raise very good points as well that allow me to further explore the blog topics/court case.

    • Just a jersey girl

      Congratulations for making it on your own. I applaud you

      • Stacy Slotnick

        I second that Just a jersey girl.

  • rasta

    It really makes me sick to think of what Bethenney is going through behind marrying this POS. I only hope that she can somehow find solice and gravitate without fail to go on and be the intelligent, interesting and good mother that she is. That she never reads all the hate that women, for reasons unknown, seem to have for her. I have and always will love Bethenney for the woman she portrays on my tv. I admire her substance. Her straight foward no time for bull sh*t sane New York attitude. I can truly understand why she says she will NEVER get married again. Looking out at the successful women like herself and how they all seem to get burned by their spouses, it baffles to see them walking down isles to financial doom. I applaud Oprah. She alone, seems to have God given wisdom to have never made that mistake even though the arena of spectators always hurled that question “WHEN?” At her. Because she had no answer, love has lasted along with man of her choice. This POS mama’s boy finally got what he wanted. And now, if Beth can just pay and put this nightmare behind her for 10 or 12 more years, she will go on to double, triple her success driven goals and he will be dust under her stilettos. I’m so happy she returned to RHONY! Last night’s episode was the BEST!

    • rasta

      And the only REAL WINNERS are the attorneys.

      • Stacy Slotnick

        You make an excellent point, and one I have heard echoed time and again. There are always attorneys who will be paid exorbitant sums of money and others who will barely get by. Some prominent individuals I represent have explained that divorce lawyers charge the most out of any legal professional they have worked with — by far. However, I would like to share this quick tidbit: I have a handful of friends who founded a law firm to represent abused spouses in divorce proceedings and with child support/child custody issues. They take phone calls 24/7 and provide safe havens for those individuals who are emotionally and physically abused. They do not make a lot of money but their lives are rich and satisfying. Most definitely the attorneys in this case are making a very nice living but they charge so much because they have a winning track record. The market dictates their fees.

    • Stacy Slotnick

      Thank you for your comments, rasta! As you can probably tell by the tone of my article, there is something less than savory about a monied spouse having to equal the playing field in a divorce if the less monied spouse is unemployed or underemployed. The idea of redistributing the wealth via temporary maintenance and legal fees is also hard to wrap one’s brain around for a marriage that lasted a short duration.

      The rule is that an award of interim counsel fees to the less monied spouse shall enable that spouse to retain competent counsel and litigate the case on an equal footing with the monied spouse. However, when does leveling the playing field become punishment? Should Jason retain (and have Bethenny pay for) the top divorce lawyer in Manhattan or is he entitled only to “competent” counsel? Sometimes an award of counsel fees can be viewed as a punishment to the monied spouse, and not an attempt to level the playing field in litigation between the monied and the less monied spouse. What do you think?

      Glad you enjoyed last night’s RHONY episode. I am eager to watch it tonight on my DVR!

      • American Woman

        It seems to me that Bethenny is being punished for having money. I love your comments! Though this is irrelevant, I don’t like Hoppy. He always struck me as vengeful. Bethenny may not be a walk in the park, but, his monthly expenses seem incredulous to me.

  • side of Sour Cream

    Moral of the story, it seems, is that unless one is a broke divorce attorney, don’t get married!

    • Stacy Slotnick

      I love your efficient and businesslike analysis. Is it appropriate for the RHONY star to foot the majority of the legal bills as the monied spouse? Should the length of their marriage be taken into account when determining how much Bethenny has to pay in assets and property to Jason?

      • side of Sour Cream

        Thanks Stacy 🙂

        I’m not an impartial observer here because I think Jason is a mama’s boy & a snake. And I do believe Bethenny is getting screwed.

        I’ve read reports of his income being around the 100K mark? If true, he is either a total dufus at his job, or he is seriously under-reporting what a seasoned pharmaceutical sales professional should be bringing home–especially on the east coast.

        Query—does the court take into account industry standards for income in these cases? Because for his age, experience, education, demeanor, he should be doing MUCH better than he is reporting. (if 100K is true)

        • Stacy Slotnick

          You are so welcome! You make an excellent point and ask very good questions regarding Jason’s income and its impact on the divorce proceedings and maintenance. The Court would take into account whether he has reported income properly. They might not look to industry standards in order to determine what he should or could be bringing in when calculating alimony, child support, and counsel fees. However, if Bethenny can show that he is severely underemployed and not reporting income accurately, she makes a great case for reduced maintenance and perhaps an argument to revisit the child custody settlement. I am assuming a pharmaceutical salesman has salary and commission so his income may fluctuate each year.

        • Stacy Slotnick

          Consider the fact full disclosure of financial circumstances by both parties is required. The court requires that the parties exchange income tax returns, W-2 forms, 1099 forms, statements K-l, paystubs, statements of account for all financial assets, including bank accounts, retirement accounts and other investments, statements pertaining to life insurance policies having a cash value, and a sworn statement of net worth in the official form required by the State of New York.

          • side of Sour Cream

            What about expense accounts? If Jason is a favorite with the top brass at his place of employment he could be expensing almost everything. His living expenses could be almost nothing because he is surviving on his company account.
            I wonder if Bethenny’s lawyer could subpoena expense account records? Start involving Jason’s employer and maybe they would stop protecting him; if in fact my hunch is correct and they are. At the very least he might actually have to start trying at work.

            I don’t know, he’s just so slimy. I would be so tempted to go at him if I were her. I’d rather pay a lawyer than give it to that putz.

          • cait

            Hope this happens, and I get why she will not let this go !

          • Stacy Slotnick

            It has been reported that he’s been unable to find a steady job since the divorce.

          • side of Sour Cream

            me too, cait.

          • Stacy Slotnick

            If there is a lack of full disclosure, usually the judge will be eager to come down hard on the less that forthright party but an attorney for the other side should definitely make a motion to find out information he/she believes is relevant to his client’s case.

  • Fritz the. At

    $25 million net worth is such a joke. She lowered herself to return to this reality clown show for $$$. This is what she gets for getting a sperm donor and creating a child for a spinoff reality show. She is seriously damaged as a human being.

  • cheryl

    How is it that Jason’s attorney is able to make public comments about what Bethenny says on the show? Why does her attorney not push back or ask the judge to not allow this? The first episode about Bethenny’s housing situation drew the comments of Jason’s attorney. He seems to comment in the press and Jason calls emergency hearings for minor issues. Seems she is being pressed because she is a public figure.

    • Stacy Slotnick

      That’s a great point. Jason’s attorney seemed to emphasize (and denounce) Bethenny’s behavior over her social media postings in open court but he has no problem making statements to the media and reacting to her remarks and actions. Either the press is his friend or foe. Remember too, attorneys will act as mouthpieces for their clients because their clients should not be speaking about material or relevant items related to court proceedings so as to not incite displeasure from the judge. Again, excellent thought!

  • cait

    There was a case here, recently, where a couple of hippy travellers got married, and a couple of years later, divorced. 20+ years later, she was still a scrounger and he went on to be an entrepreneur multi-millionaire ! She went to the Law Lords, who gave her permission to go after his (post-her) money, but happily, a proper Judge told her to Go Forth and Multiply !

  • cait

    Stacy, is the length of the marriage contained at 2 years, or does the additional time they’ve spent wrangling, count ?

    • Stacy Slotnick

      Jason and Bethenny were married for nearly two-and-a-half years before they announced their split on December 23, 2013 and Bethenny filed for divorce in January 2013.

      • cait

        So does the length of the marriage stop when the divorce petition is filed ?

        • Stacy Slotnick

          In terms of determining spousal support, division of assets, child support, and legal fees, the court would consider the marriage as ending when the separation papers were filed. However, the court is given discretion in making determinations about support and legal fees. For instance, if there was a business deal Jason was a part of prior to the separation but payment on the deal was not concluded until months after Bethenny filed for divorce, whether that deal should be part of their marital property subject to equitable distribution is within the discretion of the trial court.

  • cheryl

    I know it’s not known what is in the pre nup, but it appears it does not help spell out much to help Bethenny.

    • cait

      I wonder what changes were made to the pre-nup after they were married ?

      • Stacy Slotnick

        Consider this: Bryn was not born when they signed the prenuptial agreement. It would be my humble guess that the prenup was amended after her birth to include clauses about her financial and emotional wellbeing. What do you think the changes were?

        • American Woman

          When they got married, Bryn was on the way. It seems that would have been done before the marriage. Just sayin’ .. What is the point of a prenup if it doesn’t do any good?

    • Stacy Slotnick

      I agree, cheryl, that the prenup wasn’t entirely helpful or advantageous. From spousal and child support to division of property, all those items were in limbo at one point or another during the course of this divorce.

      • cheryl

        If this were a longer term marriage that had a better track record of each persons contribution, and not just Bethenny’s (it seems hers is the only one that counts here) it would be different. Jason is going to financially gain from a two year marriage on the back of someone who worked for years to get to the financial stability he contributed very little to. Whether you personally like Bethenny or not, she is a smart successful hard worker. It’s Bryn’s future that is being diminished by the outragious financial demands of Jason, all for his personal gain. There is no guarantee that Bethenny can maintain this earning power, so yes i agree, someone was not looking out for her future earnings and potential in her pre nup.

        • Stacy Slotnick

          Excellent, well-stated points. I think many posters will agree with you.

          • cheryl

            I’m off my soap box now..thank you Staci for the blog post and time to answer questions. I’ve wondered for awhile now what the status of her divorce was.

          • Stacy Slotnick

            It is my pleasure and you are entirely welcome to hop back on your soap box and share your ideas and thoughts about this case. The status of her divorce the time this blog went to press (smile) is that the two will share co-parenting status over their daughter, Bryn, while temporary spousal support, counsel fees, and maintenance have been awarded. Their divorce and equitable division of assets, spousal support, and child support have not yet been finalized. Thank you again for your generous compliments, cheryl.

  • ♥♥♥ Tigerlily ·.¸¸.·*¨·.·.¸¸.

    Great blog Stacy. Very informative.
    Ugh! Bethenny, seems like you &/or your lawyer did you no favors regarding your pre-nup if this is the mess you are left with. (Should’ve asked Stacy to go over for you! LOL!)

    For Bryn’s sake. I just hope that your love for your daughter is eventually greater than the animosity you & Jason have towards each other. You are not hurting each other as much as you are your kid.

    & Jason shame on you. We ALL know you would not be in that swanky Downtown loft without Bethenny’s $$$.
    Time to grow-up & stop caring more about your egos & money than your kid!

    • Stacy Slotnick

      Thank you Tigerlily! I’m delighted you enjoyed the blog.

      It is my suspicion that the amendments to the prenup revolved around Bryn (child support, custody, how she should be raised in terms of religion and schooling) since the prenup was modified after the marriage. Thanks for the shout-out that I should have been retained to draft it! 🙂 Forecasting Bethenny’s success is what her lawyers needed to focus on to ensure her earnings were protected.

      I love the sentiment expressed “Just hope that your love for your daughter is eventually greater than the animosity you and Jason have towards each other.” Perfectly stated.

      • ♥♥♥ Tigerlily ·.¸¸.·*¨·.·.¸¸.

        Thanks Stacy. Well, imho, she should have retained you. Bet you’d never have let her get into this type of mess.

        Is it true that Jason demanded that Bethenny have a life insurance policy & that HE & Bryn are the beneficiaries? How can he make a demand like that? How can he demand to be a beneficiary? That I don’t get. Bryn, absolutely. Makes total sense, but him too? Awww hells no!

        Sadly I watched my ex BIL play games & use his $$$ against my sister to try & buy his kids’ love & influence them. All he succeeded in doing was hurting his kids, while my sister never once said a bad word about him. Ever.
        Even though he was the cheater & the game player, she never once said a bad word about him. I found that to be beyond admirable & when I asked how she could hold her tongue, she said it was because she didn’t ever want her kids to feel as if they had to pick a side or that there as something wrong with them because they were half their Dad. She was an awesome Mom & one hell of a lady.

        • Stacy Slotnick

          Yes it is true. Jason made that demand for a life insurance policy. Some see this as greedy, others don’t understand the demand at all when he is an able-bodied individual who doesn’t need to ask for the sun, the moon, and the stars.

          Wow. I am sorry for this situation you witnessed firsthand but what a classy individual who bites her tongue because she doesn’t want her kids to feel like they have to pick a side in a separation or divorce. Thank you for sharing this personal story. No doubt many posters are glad you did.

          • ♥♥♥ Tigerlily ·.¸¸.·*¨·.·.¸¸.

            Thanks Stacy. Appreciate the kind words.

            I’m totally flummoxed that Jason can even make that kind of demand nevermind actually get it. WTH??? Holy moley Batman! I am gobsmacked by that. Totally blown away.

            Yeah the BIL was a piece of work. He’d take the kids out on trips to fancy places & buy them things. Expensive things & then say something vile like, “Mommy doesn’t do that for you!”
            Uhhh, truth was Mommy can’t do that because Daddy refused to pay his child support & Mommy had to work 2 jobs. He also had the audacity to question whether or not his son was actually his. (All because he cheated on my sister while she was 6 months pregnant. Effer actually snuck a DNA test on his son after my sister died.)
            Real prince!
            Oh & she had to deal with breast cancer on top of all of it!

          • Stacy Slotnick

            Oh wow. You truly have seen it all. There are no words. I am sorry.

            Under New York law, divorce automatically revokes beneficiary designations to an ex-wife or ex-husband. The law says the insurer should proceed as if the beneficiary had predeceased the insured person. The bottom line in New York is divorce automatically cancels life insurance policy beneficiary designations, but they can be maintained as part of a divorce settlement.

          • ♥♥♥ Tigerlily ·.¸¸.·*¨·.·.¸¸.

            Ahhh, okay. Thanks Stacy, cause that was really sticking in my craw. LOL!

          • Stacy Slotnick

            Hehe. You are welcome. The idea divorcing couples must understand is that if they negotiate, it gives them back some power over the process as opposed to having a judge decide critical issues impacting their lives for years to come. If Bethenny doesn’t want Jason to be a beneficiary on her life insurance policy, she can use a larger spousal support number as leverage.

          • CelebrityWasted

            Bethenny requested to be a beneficiary in Jason’s life insurance policy when she filed for divorce, a few weeks before Jason filed and requested the same thing. She also requested child support retroactive to the date of filing for divorce.

          • Stacy Slotnick

            How does the fact that she wanted him to maintain a life insurance policy for her benefit as well as Bryn’s shape your analysis of this case?

          • RonnieIsBack

            Yes legally it is how you protect yourself and it is standard.

        • Ilivehereandlikeit

          I’ve heard of life insurance policies being a part of divorce laundry lists for the purposes of guaranteeing the minor child has living expenses covered in the event of a death of a parent. Please don’t think I’m defending Bethanny’s future ex, not at all. Just saying that I know this is something that can be asked for in a divorce. I’ve been fortunate never to have been divorced but I paid close attention to family members who did go through some really nasty ones.

          • ♥♥♥ Tigerlily ·.¸¸.·*¨·.·.¸¸.

            What irks me is why he is listed as a beneficiary, or that he can even demand to be listed as one. That’s what is mind blowing to me. Their child absolutely. Makes total sense, but the Ex?

          • Ilivehereandlikeit

            Well custody would go to him most likely in the event of the policy holder’s death. Once the child was old enough to support herself then the policy would be cancelled or she would be named as sole beneficiary.

          • Jennymckitty

            ITA, Tiger. Her child and an executor should oversee the policy.

        • Ilivehereandlikeit

          Your sister indeed is a good person and obviously a very great mom. Too bad more can’t put anger and hurt aside and do what is right for their children.

          • ♥♥♥ Tigerlily ·.¸¸.·*¨·.·.¸¸.

            Thanks so much Ilive. She really was one of a kind.

          • Stacy Slotnick

            Nicely stated. The best interests of the child should be of optimal importance to parents and the legal system.

  • Goo Goo G’Joob

    I think the trend of the more monied spouse footing the counsel fees for the less monied spouse is a step in the right direction and I sincerely wish it were in practice in more areas. Having worked from time to time as a volunteer at Domestic Violence shelters, I’ve seen too many simply give up and give in because they lacked the funds to obtain adequate legal representation and the pro bono charities were simply too swamped to take another case.

    As for the other issues in Bethenny v Jason, such as the Tribeca loft, alimony, etc, I’ve not kept up with all the details on her because I got to a point I couldn’t stand to watch her or any of the NY HW’s midway through Season 2. I only read the recaps and very occasionally watch maybe 10 or 15 minutes of an episode until I remember why I can’t stand to watch the show. I have done a good bit of reading about this divorce and I’ve seen numerous mentions of how Bethenny had begged Jason to join her in her Skinnygirl mega-empire as a partner. If that is factual, I can understand his asking for substantial assets from her.

    • Just a jersey girl

      Stacy, I so agree with Tigerlily wonderful blog. Divorce is never easy. I just hope Bryn will be okay. I kept thing neutral for my children. Now 12 years later we have Holidays together crazy but it works, Modern Family

      • Stacy Slotnick

        I loved reading your post. I am so happy to hear you were able to take the “good road” and make it work for the sake of your children. The fact that you have holidays together is a testament to your elegance and selflessness. Bravo! I am very glad you enjoyed the blog. Divorce opens up a Pandora’s box of legal, financial, and emotional issues, and we can all gain more insight into this high-stakes divorce when we examine all aspects together.

        • Just a jersey girl

          Stacy, I just read this thank you for making my day.

          • Stacy Slotnick

            You are quite welcome. Thank you for your great posts and key insight. I hope you continue to have a wonderful day. 🙂

          • American Woman

            Stacy, didn’t Jason sign a prenup and if he did, why is it not working? Why is there such a battle?

    • Stacy Slotnick

      Thank you for your thoughts and wonderful comments. Your opinions are well-reasoned and I commend you for your work at domestic violence shelters. As far as RHONY goes, I think you might find this season interesting insofar as there is a sense of camaraderie as cast member try to help one another because many of them are going through divorces and money troubles. You see them more exposed and raw.

    • American Woman

      I was under the impression, that Jason was begging for partnership and Bethenny did not want that. Bethenny wanted Jason’s help with things as he was good with details. He was being paid as an employee and he was quite upset about it. She was not about to hand him full partnership. I can completely understand why. If you watch the old episodes you can see this. Am I wrong?? I don’t know.

  • Susan Thorne Zavagli

    how long will he be entitled to alimony

    • Stacy Slotnick

      This is a good question. A final order of maintenance (alimony) will be issued by the Court as part of a judgment of divorce, and such final order will either be made for a fixed amount of time, called durational maintenance, or for the lifetime of the recipient spouse. Therefore, Jason, pursuant to the divorce, could be awarded spousal maintenance for life, not at all, or for a fixed period of time. In durational maintenance, upon the conclusion of a time period, the maintenance ends without the need for further court intervention. Nondurational or lifetime maintenance is a final order of maintenance which lasts for the duration of the recipient’s lifetime.

      In New York, nondurational/lifetime maintenance is awarded in extremely rare circumstances. Durational maintenance is awarded to the lesser monied spouse of a divorce for a defined, fixed term. Durational maintenance is usually provided to spouses that have been out of work for a while or spouses who are caring full-time for young children and need resources to become financially independent. Therefore, I could see the Court awarding Jason durational maintenance for a fixed term, say 3-5 years. Whether to award maintenance and the amount, if awarded, is at the discretion of the trial court. The parties could also negotiate maintenance and settle the issue out of court.

      • Jennymckitty

        Before Jason married Bethany, he was a successful real estate agent and prior to that worked as a pharmaceutical rep. Why he can’t start selling real estate again is beyond me. Bryn goes to school every day and he and Bethany share custody. It isn’t like he is chained to his home, watching a child 24/7. If this were a once successful woman divorcing a more successful man, I’d feel the same way. They were married for what? A grand total of two years and now she is stuck supporting him? In a career where you can literally be your own boss, I think his claims of being unable to find a job are total BS.

        • RonnieIsBack

          I think his job is 24/7 tracking Bethenny

          • Jennymckitty

            I am not a Bethany fan. I don’t dislike her but I don’t love her. However, I feel for her. I was in total agreement with Jason when he was going after joint custody. Now that it is settled, he needs to work on getting his life back on track and stop fighting to get more money. Get off his dead a$$ and start working. What does he do all day long? Bryn is in school. And Jason is doing what? Cyber stalking Bethany while she works her butt off? Does he need an agency to start selling real estate again? I don’t think so. Drive across the bridge and go into NJ if the NY market is too competitive. Write a book. Do something. I was supportive of Jason but I’m rapidly losing respect for him. In the future when Bryn looks back on this, will she see her dad as a gold digger?

          • Stacy Slotnick

            All excellent points. You make a very valid argument that this isn’t about liking Bethenny and disliking Jason. If Jason is to be awarded legal fees, maintenance, and child support, there should be incentive for him to be employed, which means reducing those payments to force him to stand on his own two feet. In turn, Bryn admire and respect her Dad even more.

        • Stacy Slotnick

          Yes! Love your commentary, Jennymckitty. I volunteer a few nights a week alongside amazing people who face medical challenges, and they get up and go to work at this facility because not only is it a paycheck but it gives them a sense of purpose. Why an able-bodied man who is in his 40s cannot do the same is beyond me. Several reports claim he isn’t gainfully employed despite the fact his name alone could get him a pristine job at a top New York real estate firm and/or he could continue on as a pharmaceutical salesman, an industry that saw several billion dollars in growth in 2014. The very idea that he cannot pay his own way and afford his lawyer bills despite his resume is very disturbing to those who work hard, like Bethenny. I too think that the award of legal fees, maintenance, and the division of assets and property must factor into the equation their marriage’s short duration.

        • Babson_Chick

          Maybe Jason is afraid to leave the apt. as she might have him locked out. He has become a squatter I’m thinking. lol

        • Dawn Rugar

          Kinda crazy for him to milk it and not work. Companies can get sued and go under both parents should always work if fully able to, nothing is for sure in life except death and taxes. Always be prepared to support you child on your own because stuff happens. Crazy not to do your best for the children and bank on a ex spouse or any one else if you don’t have too.

      • RonnieIsBack

        Exactly..what he is geting now is called status quo….interlocutory relief.

      • Dawn Rugar

        I hope the court recognizes he is a health fit man that should have a job. I bet he would if she wasn’t so rich…lol

        • Stacy Slotnick

          Completely agree. Excellent point, and one the court should take note of.

  • RonnieIsBack

    Great analysis Stacy!
    We all know Family Law is it’s own court and it is a court of equitable distribution…Methenny knew she was marrying a business man…she got greedy and thought she could bully him out of the marriage the way she did during the marriage. Besides the Skinnygirl Empire, what she received from Jason was much most precious (a daughter) – and he is using that as leverage. He is going to make her pay for that dearly.
    I simply cannot understand why her attorneys would not push for her to have a a bifurcated divorce and then go back to settle the financials later..At least she would not be married to him…The only folks truly benefiting from this mess are the attonreys (no offense Stacy but you know I understand the logistics). I cannot tell you how many times when I clerked for a Family Law Judge for 3 years, she would admonish the petitioner and respondent to settle with each other because all this bickering and fighting over BS is only making their attorneys richer.
    Methnney should have not landed the golden egg during mariage. That chit is marital property, prenup or no prenup…She gotta pay up. It is well documented that Jason worked his arse off for her to build her empire.

    • Stacy Slotnick

      Thank you, RonnieIsBack. There is no question many judges will push for the parties to resolve their differences on their own and reach a settlement that is agreeable to both. New York does not allow bifurcation in divorce cases. This means all issues of the divorce must be resolved before the divorce is finalized.

      • RonnieIsBack

        No bifurcation for NY…that suck! wow….then she needs to call Tom Cruise stat lol. Too bad she doesn’t have anything on Jason to “bargin” with. We all know that’s how Katie got Tom to fold quickly.. and she used NY as her venue (smart cookie – he screwed Nicole years prior).
        It is quite unfortunate. They both need to stop holding their breaths..but something tells me Beth will go bankrupt before she caves…

  • Dawn Rugar

    Lawyers are not free and just imaging going to court by your self band your spouse has no problem having a good attorney it is not fair and you will be at a huge disadvantageo or people would save a lot of money and just choose not to hire one. Temporary allimoney is great to if the other spouse was supported and now the one with the money just walks out the door. Been there with 4 children going to a food pantry for my food till I had a job not easy. Both parents should have an even playing field. Not fair at first people need time to get a job and do what you have to because it’s usually a sudden change that you don’t plan for and with children involved it’s a great idea