As Harvey Weinstein faces the possibility he could spend 29 years behind bars, Monday's guilty verdict carries other legal implications, too. Experts say Weinstein's conviction could affect his child support and custody arrangement with ex-wife, Georgina Chapman.
The disgraced producer, 67, shares two young children with Chapman: India, 9, and Dashiell, 6. The Marchesa co-founder announced she was leaving Weinstein in October 2017 shortly after he was publicly accused of rape and sexual misconduct. "My heart breaks for all the women who have suffered tremendous pain because of these unforgivable actions," she said in a statement at the time.
Chapman, 43, and Weinstein reached a divorce settlement in January 2018 reportedly worth around $15 to $20 million. She also got primary custody of their two children. Family law attorney Allan Mayefsky, a partner with NYC-based family law firm Aronson Mayefsky & Sloan, tells Yahoo Entertainment there are a number of ways the verdict against Weinstein can legally impact his divorce settlement.
"As for child support, Georgina Chapman has an argument for asking for more money because with Mr. Weinstein’s incarceration, the kids will be with her a lot more and her expenses higher," Mayefsky explains.
However, Weinstein could use the verdict to his advantage, too.
"Mr. Weinstein could also argue that he is so financially damaged that he is no longer able to make money. His reputation has taken an enormous hit, not to mention he’s spent a lot of money on criminal defense attorneys and has another criminal trial looming in Los Angeles," Mayefsky continues. "And, of course, he’s going to have to shell out money in civil lawsuits and settlements. It all depends on his current financial circumstances as to whether there are grounds for a change."
As for custody issues, the court "will be guided by the best interests of the children."
"While any incarceration will obviously change the schedule of time with children, there should be a determination if jail visits are appropriate and how that would be accomplished," Mayefsky notes. "If Weinstein has a good relationship with his children, visitation even in jail, would in all likelihood be good to maintain a relationship with their father. Professional help for the children to deal with the situation, and any collateral fallout such as teasing or bullying from friends, would be important."
Mayefsky concludes, "Upon Mr. Weinstein’s release, there would need to be consideration of the father’s absence from the children’s lives in determining any new access schedule."
Christopher Melcher, partner at Los Angeles-based Walzer Melcher family law firm, says Chapman will likely now have "sole custody because of [Harvey's] confinement."
"While Harvey is in jail, his children will be able to see him only if they go there to visit him," Melcher explains. "The New York jail allows family visits but the children will be subject to search and other safety conditions."
If Weinstein's children hope to continue a relationship with their father, Melcher has found it's better for children "to maintain contact with an incarcerated parent."
"Many children visit their parents in jail or prison on weekends and have become used to the routine. It is usually better for children to maintain contact with an incarcerated parent than wait for the parent to be released, especially if there is a long sentence," he shares. "Family visits occur in secure areas so it is safe, but it must be difficult for children to see their parent in that environment. One of the worst consequences to Harvey may be the suffering and embarrassment he caused his children, who are innocent bystanders of his conduct."
In a 2018 interview with Vogue, Chapman said her heart breaks for her children who still love their dad. She explained she was seeing a therapist to work through the pain.
"At first I couldn’t, because I was too shocked. And I somehow felt that I didn’t deserve it. And then I realized: This has happened. I have to own it. I have to move forward," she shared. "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?"
Chapman continued, through tears, "What are people going to say to them? It’s like, they love their dad. They love him. I just can’t bear it for them."
Weinstein’s top defense attorney, Donna Rotunno, told the Daily Mail his two young children rely on him "on a daily basis."
"The thought of his two young children who rely on him on a daily basis. This is not a joke... this is real life," she said.
Weinstein also has three older daughters from his previous 20-year marriage to Eve Chilton: Lily, 25, Emma, 22, and Ruth, 17. Rotunno said they don’t speak to their father.
"His oldest daughters don't speak to him. So I mean it's horrific. The ripple effect of someone losing their freedom is beyond what any of us could comprehend," she said, emphasizing how close he is with the kids he shares with Chapman.
"He's been seeing the younger kids their whole lives. They live next door to each other, he has a great relationship with his younger children," she added.
As for Weinstein’s relationship with Chapman, Rotunno wouldn’t comment on what the designer’s reaction was to the guilty verdict, but added, "They're divorced but they work well together with the kids."
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