Rumor has it that Shaquille O’Neal’s attorneys are trying to get his estranged wife Shaunie O’Neal kicked out of Los Angeles Superior Court and kicked back to Florida where the parties are domiciled. The basis of the argument is that Shaunie should not be allowed to “forum shop” and basically that divorce tourism should not be tolerated in California.
Shaunie allegedly had only moved to Los Angeles a few weeks before she filed for divorce there. And the rumor is that she did that because Los Angeles is community property (she will get about half without a prenup) and Florida is an equitable distribution state (she will get what’s fair only). It is a strategic move by Shaunie, of course, but Shaq and his team are going to play hard ball to get her back to Florida where they are and have been residents for the duration. Can he win?
Well, here’s the bottom line: Each state has its own residency requirements. Some states only require residency for a few months. Others require at least a year of residency before a party can file for divorce there. In California, you have to have been a resident for at least six months before you can file for divorce there. If Shaunie was only in California for a few weeks as is rumored, then she cannot legally file for divorce in California. But she can file for a legal separation and then after six months has elapsed, she can “amend her petition” to divorce.
So in theory, Shaq can’t win. He will not be able to block Shaunie if all she asked for is a separation initially and then to amend to divorce after six month assuming she has been in California less than six months. If she has met the six month requirement for residency, it is unlikely that Shaq and his Florida team can kick her out of Los Angeles at all. She would legally have met the residency requirement. And California is no fault (irreconcilable differences) so it’s really now a question of, how much will Shaunie get? Cause the train has pretty much left the station as far as which state has jurisdiction over the divorce.
Check out this website for info on residency requirements in California: http://www.courtinfo.ca.gov/selfhelp/family/divorce/residency.htm