When parents fight during and after a divorce, judges are forced to wrestle with their disputes and arrive at some accommodation that preserves each parents’ relationship with the child, while minimizing the opportunity for further conflict ahead. At least, that’s the idea. We all know it doesn’t always work out that way. For Real Housewife of New York City Bethenny Frankel, there’s a Plan B to explore in her post-divorce battles with her ex-husband Jason Hoppy. Based on stalking charges that bedeviled Hoppy for much of the last year, Frankel is asking a judge for full custody of their daughter, apparently in an attempt to get Hoppy out of her life once and for all.
This will be a heavier lift than Frankel may expect, but given the evidence against her ex that she’s been accumulating over the last year, Hoppy’s legal team can’t rule out that his former wife will prevail. The pair’s famously disastrous divorce was a deeply ugly affair that lasted almost twice as long as their short marriage. They wed in 2010 as part of Frankel’s reality TV career, in a show called Bethenny Getting Married (later retooled as Bethenny Ever After). The series, which ran for three seasons on the Bravo network, followed Frankel and Hoppy as they prepared to both wed and have a baby. Daughter Bryn was born five weeks early, and just weeks after the couple married. Perhaps it was the dual pressures of being newlyweds and new parents that did the marriage in, but in any case, by the end of 2012, Frankel had made it clear that in her mind, the marriage was over. She filed for divorce not long after, though one wonders if she would have moved so quickly had she known what was to come.
The long and short of it is that Hoppy, backed by some fairly cutthroat legal assistance, created a divorce that was as painful and as expensive as they could make it. For instance, Frankel, who founded the Skinnygirl Cocktail label that was eventually sold to Beam, Inc., for $100 million, purchased a $5 million loft in Tribeca with the proceeds. The apartment was for the couple to share once they were married, and was purchased through a trust instrument that Frankel established jointly with Hoppy. When the divorce began, both parents remained living in the loft, though Hoppy’s response to the divorce filing was to demand exclusive occupancy of the home, where he could live with Bryn. Their judge did not agree to this, though it does seem like Hoppy won on other elements of his response, including Frankel continuing to maintain a life insurance policy and paying child support to him.
While it’s common for a couple to remain in the marital home while initial decisions are made regarding child custody and finances, Frankel and Hoppy’s cohabitation appears to have sparked genuine contempt. Eventually, Frankel began dating again, and when a relationship seemed to be getting serious, she also went to the judge and asked for exclusive occupancy of the apartment. The judge again declined to force either parent out of the marital home, prompting her to move out to both move forward with her life and, presumably, to get away from a situation that seems to have been increasingly hostile on both sides. The problem for Frankel is that she was the wealthier spouse in the marriage, earning around $5 million a year to Hoppy’s $100,000 or so salary as a pharma executive. Because of this, even though she no longer lived in the apartment, she was still responsible for its upkeep. This came out to around $11,000 a month, not including things like child support and any temporary maintenance that Hoppy was receiving through this time.
In 2014, Hoppy’s legal team came at Frankel with a demand for her to pay his legal fees. Again, this is a common scenario in a divorce, and courts generally do assign payment of some or all legal fees to the wealthier spouse. Because their incomes were so disparate, she was awarded her estranged husband’s entire $100,000 legal bill. In 2015 – more than two years into this nightmare of a divorce – the judge awarded Hoppy $12,000 a month in alimony and ordered Frankel to pay him $3,000 a month in child support, another $100,000 in legal fees, and continued upkeep of the Tribeca loft.
This time, Frankel appealed, and nearly a year later, the appellate court took her side, relieving some of the financial barrage that she had been living with since 2013. It wasn’t until mid-2016 that the divorce was finally over, a three-and-a-half year saga that seems to have left both spouses hurt and angry. Unfortunately, it appears that they haven’t been able to put aside any of their differences, and the ongoing frustration of co-parenting their daughter has driven at least one of them to unlawful levels of harassment.
Late in 2016, Frankel’s then-boyfriend sent a cease and desist letter to Hoppy, complaining that the ex-husband was bombarding him with texts, emails, and phone calls. Hoppy explained himself by saying that as Bryn’s father, he has a clear interest in keeping track with where the girl was, and that Frankel had made herself hard to find. Apparently those contacts were just the tip of the iceberg. In January 2017, Hoppy approached Frankel and her boyfriend as they dropped Bryn off at school and began screaming at them. Police were called, Hoppy was arrested, and he spent much of 2017 working through a variety of plea agreements to charges of stalking and harassment.
The evidence submitted in that case included hundreds of emails and text messages that Hoppy allegedly sent Frankel in the later months of 2016. Some were disturbing, such as when he requested a copy of the life insurance policy as though making a veiled threat against her life. Others were simply vulgar and intended to inflict pain. With the criminal case against Hoppy concluded, Frankel has now asked Manhattan Judge Michael Katz to grant her full custody of Bryn to prevent her ex-husband from continuing to harass her. Hoppy is fighting the move vociferously, but this may be one case where a request to remove a parent from the life of their ex and child could, perhaps, prevail. It’s all a reminder that when it comes to divorce and its aftermath, your best bet is to try to keep your emotions in check.
Filing For Divorce And Child Custody In Brooklyn
Questions about child custody in a Brooklyn divorce case are common.
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