A Kobe and Vanessa Bryant Reconciliation May be Bigger Bad News for Kobe's Wallet if Vanessa Later Proceeds with the Divorce

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Kobe and Vanessa Bryant's alleged reconciliation as reported by KTLA News and Fox Sports is good news for the couple and their children, right? Yes, but Orange County divorce lawyer, B. Robert Farzad, believes Kobe may not be happy if Vanessa decides to proceed with the divorce or refile in the future and eliminate the uncertainty about the length of their marriage.

If Kobe and Vanessa Bryant reconcile and, at some point in the future, Vanessa decides to proceed forward with the divorce, she may have the argument that there can be no dispute about the length of the marriage anymore...

When Kobe Bryant's wife, Vanessa Bryant, filed for divorce on December 16, 2011, she cited, according to her divorce petition, irreconcilable differences as the reason. It was the potential crescendo to a marriage that was riddled from the start with accusations of Kobe's philandering. Who can forget back in 2003 when then 19-year-old hotel employee, Kaetlyn Faber, accused Kobe Bryant of sexually assaulting her.

Since Vanessa Bryant's divorce filing in Orange County Family Court (case number 11D011657), reports indicated the couple settled everything. The reported number per the N.Y. Post were that Vanessa would receive one-half of Kobe's alleged net worth which was estimated at approximately $150 million as well as three homes, which included the mansion in which the couple lived.

While everyone waited for this divorce's final score, Kobe and Vanessa apparently called a timeout. Was the on-again, off-again couple back on? Talk of reconciliation swirled in the wind.

Whatever the reason, Orange County divorce lawyer, B. Robert Farzad brings up one fact few, if any, in the public have talked about. "It is a critical part of most settlements in high asset divorce cases and may mean the difference of millions of dollars. In the Bryant divorce, it is the ever important, and to someone of Kobe Bryant's wealth the ever financially painful, issue of spousal support," Mr. Farzad states.

What is this important fact? Mr. Farzad has reviewed the petition and response and noticed neither Vanessa nor Kobe Bryant listed a date of separation in their divorce filings. Both of them placed “TBD” (to be determined) in their papers - Vanessa in her petition and Kobe in his response.

"That is not unusual for someone in Kobe's position but it is a bit peculiar for Vanessa to put in her divorce papers any date other than one that clearly labels the marriage as that of a 10+ year duration, unless she really believed it was less than a 10 year marriage," Mr. Farzad states.

That is because in California, once the marriage hits the 10 year mark, it is considered a long-term marriage and spousal support can go on until the death of either spouse or remarriage of the supported spouse.

This fact is especially important now that Kobe and Vanessa are attempting to reconcile. Consider this. "An actual reconciliation between Kobe and Vanessa may extend the marriage. In other words, if Kobe and Vanessa Bryant reconcile and, at some point in the future, Vanessa decides to proceed forward with the divorce, she may have the argument that there can be no dispute about the length of the marriage anymore and she may argue for a long-term marriage. Kobe may have a harder time persuading the family law judge of his position, if he intends to argue the marriage never reached the 10 year mark," according to Mr. Farzad.

Some may wonder why this even matters. After all, if Vanessa will receive $75 million and three homes, isn't she set for life? Why does she even need the marriage to be of a long-term duration at that point when she doesn't need spousal support?

"She may want to keep that door open because California law allows it. Just because a spouse in Vanessa's situation receives half of the community assets does not automatically prevent her from also receiving spousal support. The Court has discretion," Mr. Farzad confirms. California family law appellate decisions have held that a spouse should not be penalized for having contributed to the growth of the community estate by being deprived of spousal support, especially when it is necessary to maintain the marital standard of living.

"Imagine the financial advantage to Vanessa Bryant if, in addition to the $75 million, three homes and whatever else she receives, she also gets, at her still very young age, alimony until one of them dies or Vanessa remarries. This is in addition to the child support she may receive from Kobe Bryant which, given Kobe's income, should not be a small monthly number," Mr. Farzad opines.

About B. Robert Farzad: Mr. Farzad is a family law attorney in Orange County, California. He is a partner at the law firm of Farzad & Mazarei.

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