Elizabeth Stephenson, Sarah Hink, Jen Bordeaux
Elizabeth: Hi everyone. I’m Elizabeth Stephenson with New Direction Family Law.
Sarah: And I’m Sarah Hink. We are the partners in podcasters at New Direction Family Law. Thank you for joining us today. We have a fun topic and also heartbreaking topic, yeah. Yeah.
Elizabeth: Yeah Haha. Funny, but No,
Sarah: No, it’s not funny. No. Sometimes you just gotta laugh about it.
Elizabeth: That’s true. That’s true.
Elizabeth: So we were talking about what came up in the news today, Jen, or recently, I guess with…
Jen: In social media, the celebrity world we see these kinds of things often, but most recently, of course, Adam Levine, front man for Maroon five. And his controversy over, has he cheated, has he not cheated in these TikTok influencers that he may or may not have inappropriate conversations with? But that beg the question for you guys as to what really constitutes, or in turn, the eyes of the law whenever you’re working with clients as inappropriate or unless it’s sexual behavior. And Adam’s quote was that he put on Instagram, “I used poor judgment in speaking with anyone other than my wife in any kind of flirtatious manner, I did not have an affair. Nevertheless, I crossed the line during a regrettable period in my life. In certain instances, it became inappropriate. I have addressed that and taken proactive steps to remedy this with my.” So what is inappropriate?
Sarah: First of all, he has a great PR person.
Elizabeth: I just wanna preface it by saying I don’t think California’s different, but we are in no fault state. So no matter what you do, how bad you are, whatever, you don’t need any of that to get divorced. You just gotta let a year and a day go by and you can get divorced. So all of this like marital misconduct, illicit sexual behavior. Really comes into play basically for spousal support. It may have some issues about property if you’re off, taking your Paramour off, to The Bahamas for the weekend or and spending money that, marital money that way. But as far as if what Adam says is true…
Sarah: Yeah. The text, I was trying to find the texts that have come out and he’s admitted to. Basically like your body is so hot, I can’t handle it, or something like that. So there’s no, that I saw, admission in the text of actual con like contact between the two, but definitely flirtatious.
Elizabeth: Yes. And the only thing I could find under our statute for marital misconduct was, as we always say, indignities rendering your life intolerable and unbearable.
Sarah: Yeah. So for alimony, there’s only one thing that will either bar alimony or make it an obligation. So if there’s a spouse that has illicit sexual conduct and you can prove that in court, then that can either, depending on what side you are, be a bar or an automatic award of alimony.
Sarah: And so that’s pretty, you know, extreme case cuz there has to be like contact…
Elizabeth: With private parts.
Sarah: With private parts and it’s statutory.
Elizabeth: It’s not like an NC 17 or something.
Sarah: Yeah. But basically like some kind of penetration, not just texting. So if not sex…
Elizabeth: You can’t do sexing or sending pictures. That would be indignities I think is where that would probably fall.
Sarah: So basically in the forms of sex, oral sex. Regular sex. I don’t know. But , and people always ask me how do I prove that? Do I need, to hire a PI person to be in the room with them filming the sexual intercourse and no, that’s not true. You have to have a situation where they would have the ability to be alone together. Or at least, in a car somewhere. And so that’s the opportunity. Then you have to prove that there’s some other connection there. That these two people that are alone are most likely having sex…
Elizabeth: Have an inclination.
Sarah: An inclination. So that could be…
Elizabeth: If we have these texts like that.
Sarah: We have texts from Adam to the girlfriend or whatever, saying, “You’re so hot.I love your body. I can’t wait to see you”, and then we have a picture of them at the hotel together. Not in the room, but outside the room. Then we can connect the dots there.
Sarah: And alimony is one thing where we can request a jury trial. You can’t request a jury trial for custody or child support. You can for alimony. So you’re either talking to the jury or to the judge and asking them to connect the dots. Like with what we’re showing you, do you believe that these two people, had sex?
Elizabeth: And what I tell people all the time is, all you have to do is give me their phone and I can tell you if they’re. Having Texts or, not cause they’re saying anything on their text per se, but they’re doing it like every day in the middle of the night. He’s coming home late, I’m just gonna go get a gallon of milk, I’ll be right back. Those quota things. Yeah, it all helps for the inclination.
Sarah: I think we’ve read a lot of text, we see the patterns. People get real bold too.
Elizabeth: I know cuz I think they don’t think they’re gonna get caught. They’re, they don’t think with their brains at that point.
Sarah: Oh, they’re in a, like, delusional world of their own, where, like they just exist with their partner and Paramore. No one else is gonna, they think they’re so sly.
Elizabeth: But not they’re not.
Jen: I found one of these texts and watching your ass jiggle on the table will permanently scar me. I’d do anything for it, I’d buy the steak dinner and whisper sweet nothings. Do it.
Sarah: Yeah. So…
Elizabeth: Is that one from Adam?
Sarah: So the ass jiggling is will, not was? So it’s in the future.
Sarah: Future ass jiggling.
Elizabeth: That was really inappropriate. Yeah. He has a really great PR person to put that out and to make it sound like, Oh, there’s nothing, But the question becomes, judges really even care anymore.
Sarah: They’re over it.
Elizabeth: I don’t think they do at all. Yeah. I think it just comes down to how much do you make? How much do you make? How much do you need? How much can you pay her?
Sarah: Yeah. And so if we don’t have the connecting of the dots to show that their sexual intercourse, we have text. We have, maybe, inappropriate pictures, but these people have never met. I have cases where, oh, they downloaded match.com before we separated. This person obviously is doing things they shouldn’t do in a relationship. Maybe a judge thinks that way and they’re gonna have a poor character. And maybe it does factor in a little bit in the award and the judges can do that cuz it’s a factor in the alimony award.
Sarah: …marital misconduct. But I can’t say that it’s gonna make a big jump in the numbers.
Elizabeth: It’s not. I have so many cases where it just wanna, it’s not revenge that they want, but they just, they wanna be made whole in some way. Especially the person that got cheated on, or, had something like that happen. They want some remuneration for that and the court can’t really do that for them in that way.
Sarah: They want their day in court, and we’ll talk about that in another episode, which I understand. Because you’re angry and you’re frustrated and you want them to pay for what they did. And that comes across a lot when we first meet our clients, but, end of the day, you go through the court system, they really do focus on the numbers. In what you need.
Elizabeth: And it comes down to financial thing. It can come into play in custody though, especially if they’re coming, staying out till 11, not coming home till three, you’re taking care of the kids and that sort of thing. So it can bleed. Over into custody a little bit too. That’s when it becomes relevant, I think. But a lot of parents wanna say, “Oh, I don’t want him to see the hint. I don’t want the kids to see him, and I don’t want her driving, I don’t want her doing certain things with these kids”. Even if there’s no real danger that you can find to the kids, in their mind, it’s still not in their best interest to be with dad’s new girlfriend.
Sarah: Yeah. Not for a while at least.
Elizabeth: Yeah. Yeah.
Sarah: Make sure you stay with the said girlfriend for a little bit. You don’t want them changing up all the time on the kids. That’s when it gets confusing.
Elizabeth: That’s true. That’s true.
Sarah: Yeah. In Adam’s case, we don’t know. We would have to have more information. Whether or not it was sexual, elicit sexual conduct or behavior there. That’s up to him and his wife too. Maybe his wife just says he is rich, I’m gonna stay. It’s fine.
Jen: She’s a Victoria Secret model.
Sarah: Hopefully she has some money, too, saved up.
Elizabeth: But I think it’s a consideration for folks, don’t automatically assume that you’re gonna take him for every, her for everything he or she is worth, because he may have stepped out or done something sexual with another person, because the law is not going to really take that into account except maybe you’ll get a little more alimony, but that’s about it.
Sarah: And it depends on how much money he or she has.
Elizabeth: That’s correct.
Sarah: If you come into our office. You’re all fired up. You have text messages, you have photos, you hired PI. And I’m like, Okay, great. How much does your husband or your, the cheating wife, if she makes more, how much does she or he make? And Oh, 60,000. I’m like you can’t get anything .
Elizabeth: You can’t, there’s nothing to take for all he’s worth at that point.
Sarah: No, we need him to make 600,000. Come on. I can’t, and that’s really frustrating for them to hear.
Elizabeth: It is, and I get it. I get why they’re angry and why they’re mad. And that’s the same thing with the girlfriend. If you wanted to go after her and she doesn’t have anything, then there’s nothing to sue her for.
Elizabeth: Unless it’s just your satisfaction of some sort.
Sarah: And it’s really expensive to litigate those alienation claims. They require a lot of time for the attorneys and staying in that pre-litigation phase. So you’re spending a lot of money just for your anger.
Elizabeth: It is. And at some point, it takes two to tango and alienation of affection. You gotta show that you had a loving and strong relationship. Jumping out, you might not have that loving and strong relationship that you thought you had.
Sarah: Yeah. Especially…
Elizabeth: But they lose a lot on, a lot of times, on that one element.
Sarah: Yeah. Especially if you stay in the relationship. For a while, right?
Elizabeth: Yeah. If somebody’s sending texts like that, they may not be, may be evidence that they’re not at a strong, loving relationship.
Sarah: Yeah. And if she, and if the wife knew about it and has seen those texts before or…
Sarah: Someone, like, called her, “Isn’t it true that one of the Insta not well, TikTok girls called you. Called you like three months ago. And you knew about this already, right?” So she obviously knows about it now.
Elizabeth: Her world knows about it now.
Sarah: So if her and Adam stay together and then two years from now she decides to get a divorce, I don’t know the law, where they are, but here you knew about it.
Elizabeth: You forgave him.
Sarah: You forgave, and that’s defense, right?
Elizabeth: And you just wiped the slate clean. So hopefully they can work things out.
Jen: So what do you look for if you’re talking about, know, that they have to prove that you had a loving and happy marriage, whatever. What, as attorneys, if somebody comes to you when they really want alienation of affection, and so you’re looking about, that device, that, that split that up. What do you look for to prove that it did exist if it was not for this other person?
Elizabeth: Go ahead…
Sarah: I mean you use a lot, family vacations.
Elizabeth: Yeah. Cards that were sent close in time, or you went on, your anniversary to Hawaii and getting letters and flowers.
Sarah: Facebook pictures. Yeah. Text messages. I love you. Thank you.
Elizabeth: Holidays, being with family, that kind of thing.
Elizabeth: But then it also becomes, are you just doing that so I don’t find out what you’re doing? It’s still hard to prove him even in that way.
Jen: Everybody’s social media relationship, it looks perfect.
Sarah: Yeah. And it’s, thinking about the subjective mind of the person who’s in the relationship, because if he’s out there doing whatever and telling people he’s not in love with me. I think he is and that’s, that matters what I think, to me, we had a loving relationship, went on trips together, he gave me these cards and…
Sarah: Told me he loved me and all this stuff like that.
Elizabeth: Exactly. And then you know what you were talking about. Yeah. You can come back and Adam could, I said this and you can say, I’m so sorry and you forgive. Then if, then he can’t do it again, , it’s like once you forgive somebody, they do it again. Then we have to start all over again. Cause it really didn’t mean that he goes…
Sarah: And he’s probably gonna do it again.
Sarah: My experience being a family law attorney, people will come back to me and they’ll be like, Yeah, there was actually an affair like five years ago. And I’m like, Oh, really? Okay. Yeah. I believe that it’s never just..
Elizabeth: Yeah. And when you find out about it, it’s generally not the only one, Correct?
Jen: I know and those intake calls are always so hard and I’m sure the consultations and you guys sit down and they’ve just discovered that this is happening and just had that recently with a guy that called in and he was like, I have tons and tons of texts that, she’s been texting this one number over and over again. And I was like, “Listen broh, I’ve been there. I understand what you’re going there”.
Sarah: Yeah. I wish I could just take him out in the ocean, push him off a boat or something. But…
Elizabeth: Yeah. And sometimes they go from one…they’re really hurt and crying and then they’re really like, really pissed off. It’s “I just wanna go kill him.”
Sarah: Yeah. It’s going through the phases. Yeah. I totally get it. And unfortunately, your family law attorney is not the one to help you through that.
Elizabeth: It’s not. And the law, the legal system is not gonna help you through that and make you whole.
Sarah: If we have some nasty details, then of course we can use as leverage and negotiating good settlements.
Sarah: No one likes to have all that drug out in court, but some people don’t care. They’ll go to court, they’ll let you drag it. And then every, It’s just a giant shit show and …
Elizabeth: The judge is all pissed off at everybody.
Sarah: Yeah. And we had our day in court.
Elizabeth: Yeah. I hope it was fun. Sometimes that’s all people need, quite frankly, whether they win or lose doesn’t really matter. They just wanna have their say.
Sarah: Yeah. And it’s the ones who deny, you know, I’m like, I know that you cheated.
Elizabeth: My favorites are when you have a child and they bring the girlfriend or boyfriend with them.
Sarah: Oh yeah.
Elizabeth: That just makes it. Horrible.
Sarah: And the purchases, like if you’re gonna have an affair or don’t spend a lot of money on your…
Elizabeth: You have cash or something.
Sarah: There’s two with cash.
Elizabeth: At least go put it on your joint bank account. Or …
Sarah: You’re just such idiots, like you clearly had an affair. I can tell by your bank statement, .
Elizabeth: I was like, Stop. But I’m telling you that people don’t think when they do stuff like that. So Sarah and I wish we could help you become whole in that situation, but we cannot. But we will always do the best we can to get you the most money that you deserve.
Sarah: Correct. And if we can make their life hell, a little bit along the way…
Elizabeth: We’re happy to do that too
Sarah: Absolutely. We’ll try our best. You might. You might make their life hell and get some extra money out of him or her, but then at the end of the day when it’s over, you’re still left with yourself.
Jen: Yeah, if you don’t, if you don’t face that and work through those feelings, accept apologies that you’re probably never gonna get like go of things, you’re never truly gonna understand, realize it’s not then you’re not gonna be able to move on. So you should be able to address those things for sure.
Elizabeth: I agree with that. Good luck, Adam.
Sarah: Yeah good luck to him. Good luck to the wife. Good luck to the girlfriends. And if you’re married, go talk to an attorney about that stuff.
Jen: Just don’t do it.
Elizabeth: Don’t do it. That’s always our advice
Jen: But people do, and they continuously will.
Sarah: And if you have questions about whether or not your affair is, you know, bars or warrants, alimony, just give us a call, New Direction, Family Law. We’ll talk to you about it.
Elizabeth: Absolutely. We’ll tell you whether you’re the payee, the payor, or we’ll let you know one other way or the other.
Sarah: Yes, As always, that’s no bullsh$t.