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Celebrity Family Law – Keshia Knight Pulliam and Ed Hartwell

In Georgia, a standing order automatically goes into effect upon the filing of any domestic relations case (i.e. divorce, alimony, equitable division, child custody, child support, legitimation, annulment, paternity), which governs the actions of the parties so during the pendency of the case. O.C.G.A. §19-1-1. The purpose of the standing order is retain the status quo as it relates to the children, finances and assets until a court can make a formal determination on the issues. One section of the domestic relations standing order “[e]njoins and restrains each party from selling, encumbering, trading, contracting to sell, or otherwise disposing of or removing from the jurisdiction of the court, without the permission of the court, any property belonging to the parties except in the ordinary course of business or except in an emergency which has been created by the other party to the action.” O.C.G.A. §19-1-1(b)(4). This clause prohibits either party from selling or otherwise disposing of marital assets before a Judge can rule on how they will be divided in the divorce action.

The contentious divorce of Keshia Knight Pulliam and Ed Hartwell is making headlines again because Hartwell sold his home two days after filing for divorce. Keshia Knight Pulliam’s Husband Has Georgia Fire Sale Days After Filing for Divorce, by TMZ Staff, August 24, 2016, tmz.com. The question becomes: Did Hartwell violate the standing order by selling the home after filing for divorce? According to the article, Hartwell owned the house prior to the marriage, so it likely was his separate property. However, if the parties paid the mortgage on the property from a joint account, or if Pulliam paid the mortgage from her own separate account, she may have a claim to a portion of the equity. In such a situation, she could ask the court to make him hold the proceeds from the sale in a separate account until such a determination is made.  If she is found to be entitled to a portion of the equity, she might make a bigger issue about the sale itself, since Hartwell sold it for a significant loss, which, in turn, reduces the equity and takes money out of her pocket. Either way, with the bitterness surrounding this divorce action, the parties are likely to make this into a big issue that requires court involvement for a resolution.

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