On June 22, 2009, Kate filed for divorce. We can assume she filed largely because Jon was (allegedly) having an affair with a 23 year old elementary school teacher. Jon apparently has traded the 23 year old in and upgraded for newer model – a 22 year old pampered daughter of a New York plastic surgeon. The very surgeon who performed Kate’s tummy-tuck. To add even more excitement to the mix, the 22 year old allegedly was arrested for Marijuana possession during her “girls-gone-wild” co-ed days. (which was just a few years ago)
And, of course, Jon sees no problem parading around the French Riviera with his new girl. Regarding this past weekend’s romp, he states: “I know that my decision to appear publicly with [insert “Muffy”, “Bambi”, “Barbi” etc…] this weekend will be scrutinized, but I hope that people can see I’m a regular guy who is going through a very difficult time in [my] life and wants to move forward.”
Most of us all probably agree (as much as we may despise Kate) Jon’s actions are immature, inappropriate and just plain stupid. But our social and moral opinions have no effect on the case. It is the Judge’s opinion that matters. So, from a legal perspective, how will Jon’s actions affect his divorce?
Probably not at all.
Unless Jon is paying for his trip to the Riviera from a marital bank account, Jon’s post separation “flings” will have no bearing on the divorce or the distribution of the parties’ assets.
His actions could, however, have some significance in a custody dispute.
Under Pennsylvania law, when a custodial parent is living in a meretricious relationship (not sure Jon is at that point yet), or when a third party may exert a substantial influence over a child, the law requires the court to view the third party and subject them to cross-examination as to their supervision, values, and relationship with the children and all other quasi-parental actions they may undertake. John’s girlfriend, should she be involved in the rearing of the children, will be subject to close scrutiny from both a child custody expert as well as the judge. Her judgment, maturity, emotional stability (and college indiscretions) will be questioned and exposed. If Jon insists on her being part of his new life, and the court determines she is not a good influence on the children, then Jon may see a reduction in his custody time with the children or restrictions limiting his friend’s involvement.
Although there is no indication that the parties will fight over custody, in fact it appears as though they may have already reached an agreement as to custody, Jon’s introduction of this third party to the family could upend any agreement that was in place and ignite a very public custody dispute. Bear in mind the Montgomery County Court does not have jurisdiction in custody; Jon & Kate would have to file in Berks County where the children reside and where the public has access to all court documents.
Next week’s headline: Kate caught in Motel 6 with Jon’s pilates instructor…
The high profile of Jon and Kate provides the public with a unique opportunity to explore issues that arise in contested divorce cases. Through this ongoing series I will offer comments and analysis of the proceedings and provide insight on how developments in Jon and Kate’s case may occur in other divorces. I am a Pennsylvania divorce attorney who is not involved in the Jon and Kate matter and the comments I present in this blog series are not case specific but rather intended to provide the public with helpful information on Pennsylvania divorce law.