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Manibog: Grounds for Divorce Comes in Many Forms

  • By G. Monty Manibog

As a young boy growing up in Hawaii, one of my movie heroes was the late Errol Flynn, who starred in swashbuckling roles as Robin Hood, The Seahawk, Captain Blood and in other adventuresome/action movies, all of which I may have seen about three (3) times over the years.

(Editor’s note:  Former Monterey Park Mayor, Manibog is a regular columnist offering legal tips and perspectives in high profile legal cases and events).

But like today’s superstar athlete, Tiger Woods, Flynn, though married, had a penchant for courting many women at the same time, many of whom were underage teens and was indicted and tried for statutory rape in the 1940’s, though acquitted.

His last teenage girlfriend was 15 year old Beverly Aadland who traveled the world with him over a two (2) year period and was at his side when Flynn died of a heart attack in Vancouver, British Columbia in 1959.

Beverly Aadland, at 17, was also at the side of her next boyfriend when he died of a gunshot wound which she claimed happened when they struggled for a gun he pointed at her that went off.  She was then made a ward of the court.

Aadland eventually began a singing and dancing career, married and divorced twice before marrying her husband of 40 years, Ronald Fisher.  She also published a book about her relationship with Flynn, “The Big Love”, which was later made into a play.

Beverly Aadland’s death, at age 67, was reported in last Sunday’s issue of The Los Angeles Times (January 10, 2010), and it immediately brought to mind my encounter with her in a Los Angeles Superior Court in 1965.  As a relatively new attorney, I represented one of her husbands, a handsome young and successful Filipino-American engineer, Mark De Leon, who charged her with mental cruelty.

On my direct examination of De Leon, he testified that during their marriage, Ms. Aadland would often ridicule him, even in front of others, stressing that he was a nobody while with Errol Flynn, she traveled through five (5) continents, met and dined with kings, queens, prime ministers, other royalty and the “cream of the crop”, while De Leon knew no one of any importance.

Aadland didn’t contest the testimony, which was supported by witnesses, and the judge granted a default judgment being in full agreement that taunting and embarrassing her husband and comparing him to the world famous swashbuckling screen idol constituted cruelty justifying the divorce.

So, cruelty as grounds for divorce comes in different forms.  In 1970, an attractive blond Monterey Park resident, who was one of Hugh Hefner’s Playboy bunnies, retained me in her divorce action and testified in court that her husband, among other things, sold some of her personal items, including her underwear, and the court agreed this was sufficient cruelty to warrant a divorce.

The Los Angeles Times had a hey day with that story, giving it a humorous touch by prominently reporting that a Playboy bunny got a divorce because her husband sold her undies; and I heard the snickers and jokes from colleagues and friends for quite some time.

The laws have changed over the years and in California today, a simple testimony that serious and irreconcilable differences have arisen between the parties that are beyond repair, is sufficient for a grant of dissolution, and a witness corroborating the testimony is no longer required.
In the case of Tiger Woods, his wife Elin Nordegren, a former Swedish model, has more than sufficient grounds to divorce the world’s top golfer based largely on his philandering with two dozen women.

She has already contacted a well-known divorce lawyer, and Tiger will face a no-win situation on issues of child support and custody, spousal support (alimony) and property rights.  His well-publicized and admitted infidelities raises the issue of “moral turpitude” which would make him unfit for custody of his two (2) children.

Although they maintain homes in Florida and California, Nordegren will likely file for divorce in California, a “community property” state, which would give her one half of the many millions Woods has earned during their five (5) year marriage, the prenuptial agreement notwithstanding, and the children will be entitled to a standard of living equal to Wood’s.  Tiger will pay dearly, indeed, in more ways than one.

So, guys, stop and think of what you stand to lose by being too frisky outside your marriage.  It really doesn’t pay and may come back to chomp you in the derriere.

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