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Murdoch divorce shaping up to be private and non-adversarial

The advent of no-fault divorce has increased the opportunity for some high-profile couples to maintain a reasonably private divorce experience. In Massachusetts as well as anywhere else, no-fault divorce complaints don't require that any fault grounds be listed and can be based solely on the grounds of 'irretrievable breakdown' of the marriage. Indeed, even Rupert Murdoch benefitted from that procedure in his recent divorce filing. He filed a short and simple document alleging the marriage was irretrievably broken.

There were no allegations of wrongdoing in Murdoch's filing. All of the indications thus far are that the participants both want a quiet divorce. Furthermore, there's not probably much to argue about due to the prenuptial agreement that Wendy Deng signed in 1999 when the two got married. It's likely that Murdoch's lawyers put iron-clad restraints on the wife's ability to maneuver out of the agreement.

Even the couple's choice of their respective lawyers for this New York divorce indicates low-key operators in a low-key environment. Despite the prenuptial, it's doubtful that Deng will not be rewarded with a generous parting recovery. When drawing up a prenuptial agreement lawyers were likely aware that a sparse agreement would carry the inclination for the wife to later complain of over-reaching.

However, the couple can still choose other divorce litigation issues to fight about. They're the parents of two girls, ages 9 and 11. Child custody and visitation are likely issues not fully resolvable in advance. Generally, child support issues cannot be put in stone and are subject to modifications. Furthermore, such matters are always subject to modification based on changing circumstances regarding what is in the best interest of the children.

The two girls have an interest in the family trust that holds the Murdoch interest in the News Corp. However, unlike the four children from Murdoch's first two marriages, these children don't have voting rights in the stock. Deng reportedly owns no News Corp. stock. If a settlement's not in the offing then a family law judge will be appointed and a hearing scheduled to get the process started. In Massachusetts, no-fault divorce principles are generally in line with those in other states.

Source: Yahoo! News, "Rupert Murdoch's aim: A divorce with little fodder for tabloids," Karen Freifeld, June 14, 2013

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