‘Sad’ reality about Weinstein’s kids’ lives
With Harvey Weinstein's rape conviction delivered, the disgraced movie mogul's legal troubles are far from over.
Experts say in addition to facing up to 25 years for the New York conviction, Weinstein, 67, is facing multiple sexual assault and rape charges in California, which could result in 28 years in prison.
The former Hollywood big shot's legal woes could also land him mounting financial obligations in addition to the custody arrangement he currently has in place with his ex-wife Georgina Chapman, with whom he has two young daughters, according to legal experts.
"There are a couple of factors here. There's the visitation with the dad and you always have to go to the best interests of the children," Peter M. Walzer, partner at Los Angeles-based Walzer Melcher family law firm, told Fox News. "So despite the fact that she's reviled the bad man who is going to be in prison, I think the courts will find the children still need to see their father and they love their father. And I think the wife admits it."
Chapman, 43, announced she was leaving the former Miramax and Weinstein Company executive in October 2017, not long after he was publicly accused of his indiscretions.
The couple quickly entered an agreement in their divorce, reportedly in the $15 to $20 million range. Chapman also got full custody of their daughters India, 9 and Dashiell, 6.
"Visitation periods in prison or even in prison hospitals are restricted. There are family hours and it means driving the kids there and waiting while they're there," Mr Walzer said. "Most courts consider the timeshare factor in child support awards. So to the extent the New York courts do that, they were living in houses next to each other so he had significant visitation.
"Obviously, now he's going to be limited to a couple of times a month just because of visitation hours," Mr Walzer said. "So Chapman may get additional support and his time with the kids is going to be limited to visiting hours per the Rikers the visitation schedule."
Chapman expressed the intense pain she feels for their children in a 2018 interview with Vogue, lamenting the fact that her girls still love their father.
"At first, I couldn't because I was too shocked. And I somehow felt that I didn't deserve it. And then I realised: This has happened. I have to own it. I have to move forward," she said. "There was a part of me that was terribly naive - clearly, so naive. I have moments of rage, I have moments of confusion, I have moments of disbelief. And I have moments when I just cry for my children. What are their lives going to be?"
Mr Walzer echoed Chapman's sentiment in his analysis of the overall impact Weinstein's rape conviction could have on the girls given their ages.
"It's really sad for the kids. I mean, everybody knows about it. It's all over the news," he said. "All the kids in their school are going to know and they're going to be picked on. It's gonna be hard for them. How is mum going to explain you're going to visit your dad in jail? Every kid knows what jail is. They play Monopoly, get out of jail. What do you say to your kid?"
Mr Walzer continued: "It's not like it's a one-time thing. Your dad's been convicted of rape. What do you tell them? That's terrible. And the mum sounds like she wants to do the right thing. She's devastated but she says the kids love their dad."
Still, even with Weinstein officially a convicted rapist, Michael Mosberg, a partner with New York City-based family law firm Aronson Mayefsky & Sloan, believes the ex-Tinseltown bigwig could use his quandary to his own advantage and might even be able to have his child support reduced.
"Weinstein's obligation to pay child support will not change unless he convinces the court that he can no longer afford to pay his current obligation. With all his legal fees, settlements and future litigation, that may be entirely possible," Mr Mosberg said. "He would likely argue that his reversal due to incarceration is not 'voluntary' unemployment and a substantial and unanticipated change in circumstances.
"At the end of the day, of paramount concern to courts are the health and welfare of children," he said. "As a result, the court will carefully scrutinise any request for a reduction in child support before granting such an application. On the other hand, Chapman can argue that she needs more child support because the children will be with her almost exclusively with Weinstein in jail."
Mr Walzer agreed with Mr Mosberg's assessment, adding that Weinstein's conviction could open him up to intense civil judgments from other accusers, thus his lawyers are likely to request a modification in mandated support in anticipation of civil lawsuits that might come down on the embattled producer.
"Of course, he's years away from getting judgments against him, and often the civil proceedings will commence after the criminal proceedings and I'd expect it to take a year possibly, and after that, they'll file a lawsuit," Mr Walzer said. "Those could take two to four years to conclude. But I think you're seeing huge judgments against him in, I understand there are 94 different incidents."
"There could be hundreds of millions of dollars in judgments and he could be wiped out," he said. "And if the judgments wipe him out, he could be in trouble."
The lawyer said he believes Weinstein may file bankruptcy at some point "to preserve something for his kids".
"It's a serious situation but I don't think he'll be able to modify his support in the foreseeable future, because it's not like he just lost his job or anything, he's the same as he was," he said.
"So we'll just have to see but I wouldn't be surprised if he's penniless in 10 years."
Weinstein is due to be sentenced on March 11.
This article originally appeared in Fox News and was reproduced with permission
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