Rock ‘n Renner Gearing Up for Battle

IMG_8925By Leslie O’Neal

While Chris Rock and Jeremy Renner have never shared time on the big screen, they currently have one thing in common: they are both dealing with newly filed divorce cases with the potential to get messy on the issue of custody.    Rock filed for divorce in New Jersey Superior Court on December 23, 2014.  In his Petition, Rock alleges that his wife of 20 years Malaak Compton-Rock “has repeatedly refused to permit [him] normal and usual access to the children, and has acted in a manner detrimental to the children’s best interests”.

Meanwhile Jeremy Renner’s Canadian model wife, Sonni Pacheco, filed for divorce against him in Los Angeles on December 5, 2014.  While she cited the standard “irreconcilable differences” ground for divorce in her initial Petition, she also included some not-so-standard requests, most notably her request that he be ordered to return her passport and that she be given “independence”.  E! News reports that Renner fears Pacheco plans to move back to Canada with their 22 month old daughter, Ava.  Needless to say, both Rock and Renner are reportedly prepared to seek custody of their children.

Renner and Rock’s state of uncertainty is not uncommon at the beginning of a divorce case when the parties have not yet had a hearing.  Thankfully, Georgia Courts put an immediate Order in place in all contested divorce cases which provides some basic rules that both parties are required to follow.  The Order is generally known as a Domestic Relations Standing Order, and prevents either party from removing the minor children from the jurisdiction, cancelling the other party’s health insurance, cutting off utilities in the home, and selling or transferring assets.

However despite the stability provided by the Standing Order, things can still be chaotic until a hearing takes place because there is no clear order establishing who has primary custody of the children, when visitation will take place, how much child support will be paid, and how the family’s bills will be paid.  Because these are generally considered issues of immediate importance, Georgia law permits parties in a domestic case to have a temporary hearing, typically at the beginning of the case, on the immediate issues that need to be addressed.  Because the temporary hearing is considered to be a shortened version of the final trial, the parties are prohibited from calling more than 1 witness (other than themselves) and the Court is instead permitted to consider written testimony from other witnesses (in the form of a sworn Affidavit) rather than live testimony.

The temporary hearing can have a huge impact on the ultimate outcome of the issues being litigated because it gives both parties a glimpse into how the Judge will react to various issues.  It also creates a status quo in the case on the issues of custody, visitation, and child support which can be challenge to overcome later in the proceedings.  It looks like for Rock and Renner, a temporary hearing cannot come soon enough in their cases.