Singer Stevie Wonder has filed for divorce from his wife of 11 years, fashion designer Kai Miller Morris. Although the divorce papers were only filed this week, Wonder and Morris have reportedly been living separately since 2009. As such, and because they are divorcing under the community property laws of California, their property division could quickly become a complicated, highly-contested legal battle as the couple works to divide their assets and earnings.

According to court documents, Wonder and Morris married in 2001, and had two children together. In his divorce petition, in which he cited ‘irreconcilable differences’ as the reason for the split, Wonder requested joint custody of the children, and reportedly agreed to pay child support and alimony to his soon-to-be ex-wife.

It remains to be seen, however, whether Wonder maintains that civility when the couple begins to work out the details of their property division. Under California community property laws, any assets earned during the marriage are divided evenly among the spouses, regardless of which person earned them.

However, the law applies only to money earned while the couple was living together with the intention of remaining married. Because Wonder and Morris separated three years ago, any assets earned during that period of separation may not be subject to a community property division. Proving when specific funds were earned can quickly become complicated, so it is easy to see how the property division could become contested. In addition, the court must also find that they separated with no intent to get back together, another fact which is difficult to prove.

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