Tuesday, August 07, 2007

In Re Marriage of Feldman (Cal. Ct. App. - Aug. 7, 2007)

What happens when you repeatedly deceive your spouse about marital assets in the midst of your divorce proceeding? You get sanctioned. A lot. Even if you're very, very rich.

This is a great story, and concerns the marriage of Aaron Feldman and Elena Feldman, which broke up after 34 years of marriage. Aaron Feldman is worth, according to the opinion, over $50 million. And the story of what he (allegedly) did during the divorce proceedings, and why he got sanctioned, gives some telling insight into how these things transpire, as well as what can go wrong.

What the opinion doesn't at all mention, however, is that Aaron Feldman is actually pretty famous. At least down here in San Diego. Amongst other things, he's the owner of Sunroad Enterprises, which is in a huge fight down here in San Diego over a building that they constructed near the flight path of an airport that was 20 feet too tall, resulting from (alleged) private meetings with the Mayor of San Diego, and that ultimately resulted in a very-high profile (and ongoing) fight with the City Attorney of San Diego. Moreover, some sources describe Aaron Feldman's worth at over $300 million, rather than the $50 million described in the opinion, and the divorce fight has apparently already generated over $7 million in legal fees.

So a nice little fight involving one of the highest-profile people about whom you've probably heard nothing. More about Aaron Feldman here if you'd like.

Anyway, even though a $175,000 sanction is peanuts to a guy worth $50 (or $300) million, the lesson of the day is that judges don't like it if you try to hide things from your spouse in a divorce proceeding. At all.