INTERVIEW: "Paternity Court" judge Lauren Lake gives us legal insight on Wendy Williams' divorce proceedings.
Wendy Williams and Kevin Hunter are currently in the midst of a complicated divorce process. After over twenty years of marriage, the talk show host filed for divorce from her husband, fired him from his role as an executive producer on her popular show, and banned him from her studio. The move comes after Wendy found out about her husband's double life, wherein Hunter got his mistress pregnant, after spending over a decade by her side. He had been using Wendy's hard-earned money to buy gifts for Sharina Hudson, the woman that mothered his out-of-wedlock child. With such high stakes in the marriage, many of Wendy's fans have been asking questions about what's to come. She's already lined up a few dinner dates but could her finances be in jeopardy?
We reached out to Lauren Lake, the judge you know from Paternity Court, to speak about everything that Kevin and Wendy are facing at the moment. With one son together and an illegitimate child outside of the marriage, questions arose regarding custody and naturally, money came up in the conversation. Would Kevin be walking away with millions, as it has been reported? Or will Wendy keep much of her fortune? Read through our interview with Lauren Lake below to learn more about the legalities behind Wendy's divorce proceedings and check your local listings for Paternity Court here.
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HotNewHipHop: After an over 20-year marriage, is there anything special we should know about the divorce proceedings for Wendy Williams and Kevin Hunter?
Lauren Lake: There’s good and bad news in this divorce proceeding. The good news is that the State of New Jersey does not have a mandatory waiting period for marriages that have lasted longer than six months. Also, NJ promotes collaborative divorce law featuring alternative dispute resolution, ADR. This allows both parties to seek an amicable solution regarding custody, finances, and property thus, potentially avoiding complications that can create for a time consuming and messy divorce proceeding. However, when dealing with a marriage and business relationship lasting over 20 years, the process of equitable distribution of assets can pose a challenge. Both parties may have their own independent idea of who was the primary contributor to amassing these assets. With each being successful in their respective careers, the division of assets will most likely be time-consuming and could become contentious.
When do you expect the divorce to be finalized?
I will say this - if they are smart they will get in a room with their respective attorneys and say, “let’s get this done together,” which means they will negotiate their division of assets in a civil way so they don’t have to go to court. The proceedings could take a very long time with all of their property. If this is a marriage that can't be saved and Wendy doesn't want to save it at this point - the quickest course of action is to negotiate together respectfully. If they have good attorneys, they will tell them to get this done amongst themselves, but this could take years if it makes its way to court.
Will there be custody issues regarding their 19-year-old son, Kevin Jr.?
Kevin Jr. is over the age of 18 so the court will not need to consider a custody arrangement or child support. However, Kevin Jr., still may have dependent expenses as any young adult has such as; healthcare, college education, car insurance, housing, and general living maintenance which would likely need to be negotiated in this divorce process.
What assets are at stake in the divorce? We reported that Kevin Hunter bought his mistress a new Ferrari the other day. Are she and Kevin entitled to keep gifts and property transferred during the marriage?
This is where the process becomes fascinating, and not knowing all the facts, we should look to the big picture. In the absence of specific details, assets acquired during the marriage are part of an equitable distribution process in NJ. The State of NJ does not always guarantee a 50/50 split. These co-mingled assets and funds will need to be divided and both parties are required to submit proof of how they were purchased or earned. For example, any gifts purchased and given to Kevin’s mistress will need to be traced to the bank account/funds used to pay for them. Ownership and title with respect to all marital assets will be relevant information. If Kevin and Wendy co-mingled their funds, things can get very messy. Since they both are stakeholders in their successful production company, it will be quite interesting to see how this plays out.
Kevin’s mistress recently gave birth to a baby girl. Will there be any custody drama pertaining to children born outside of the marriage?
No. The new baby allegedly born to Kevin and his mistress is not Wendy’s biological child. She has no responsibilities for child care or support. If Kevin is not listed on the birth certificate as father and there is no executed acknowledgment of paternity, he will have no legal responsibility to support the child until paternity is established. If and when it is established, he would be responsible for child care costs and expenses from the time of birth.
Wendy Williams allegedly suffered a hairline shoulder fracture during an altercation with her husband in December 2018. Could that come into play during the legal process?
Alleged instances of Kevin’s physical abuse and Wendy’s addiction will come up in the divorce proceedings. Hopefully, they can find a way to settle so this isn’t necessary.
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What kind of money will Kevin Hunter walk away with at the end of the divorce?
I don't know their exact net worth but I will say that he will definitely walk away with a significant sum of money, especially because most success they have received has been together. Wendy accumulated into a huge success and he has been a big part of that as he is her manager and the Executive Producer on her talk show. This gives him a pretty big level of equity in her success.
With Kevin being her manager, how could that affect the legal proceedings, if at all? As well as the fact that they jointly own her company, Wendy Williams Production? How would the division of that work?
Wendy and Kevin more than likely have their ownership percentages in the production company established. This is where the equitable distribution of assets comes into play. With the company being classified as a marital asset, the court will consider a host of factors in determining the distribution percentages. Again, negotiating a fair settlement through ADR where both parties win can avoid and resolve all of this potential drama with the court interceding.
We previously reported that this divorce could divulge just how much Kevin spent on his mistress…is that correct? How would those assets play a part?
This is correct and I hope this dirty laundry would not become tabloid news. Any funds used during the affair that are from their business and joint accounts would be considered part of the division of assets. I can’t stress enough the importance of negotiating an agreement that avoids all these details and prevents the divorce process from dragging out longer than necessary. In the end, lawyers are the only winners of long drawn out divorces.