Famed actor William Shatner has just finalized his divorce, and the settlement includes multiple properties, cars, millions of dollars, and even language about trees and livestock. The 88 year old is best known for his roles in Star Trek and several other films and commercials over the course of his career. He was married to his wife Elizabeth for 18 years, but in December of 2019 they formally filed court documents to end the marriage. Elizabeth worked as an artist for a number of years. Their date of separation listed in court filings was February 1st, 2019.
The settlement paperwork made headlines because of the vast amount of detail that was needed to cover all of their possessions and real property. The couple had a prenuptial agreement as well, which says that alimony would not be available to either spouse. Shatner agreed to pay out a $2 million lump sum that would be used instead of court ordered alimony payments. William’s net worth is estimated to be approximately $100 million.
The couple had amassed a large amount of properties, animals, and personal possessions over the course of almost two decades, which all had to be accounted for. There is even text in the documents about who gets to keep horse semen that can be used for breeding purposes and a right of access to fruit trees on one of their properties. Shatner is known to be a horse enthusiast and breeder. He was sure to include language which states that all equipment associated with the horses is his as well. He is also retaining custody of both of the couple’s dogs, but the agreement allows Elizabeth to visit the animals if she gives him notice ahead of time. Elizabeth was awarded several vehicles from the settlement paperwork, including a 2015 Mercedes Benz, a Ford Explorer, and a 2007 BMW X5. She is also keeping two of their homes, one located in Kentucky and another in Malibu Cove, California. Shatner gets two properties as well. He will get one in Studio City, California and a second in Three Rivers, California. The Three Rivers property is located very close to Sequoia National Park.
Elizabeth was given visitation rights to the Three Rivers residence, as her former husband and a number of her horses are buried there. The documents also say that she can occasionally take fruit from this property as well.
Shatner and his wife have both remained silent to the media and the public since the paperwork was finalized. This union was Shatner’s fourth attempt at marriage. The couple did not have any children together.
Deciding how property will be distributed after a long term marriage
Property division can be a complex aspect of a divorce when lots of assets are involved. While each state has slightly different laws, a couple can either bypass the process with a settlement agreement or a prenup, or they can allow the judge to decide on an equitable distribution of property based on information about the length of the marriage and other factors. In a long term marriage such as the 18 year union mentioned in the news story above, it can be difficult to decide if any property at all can be treated as separate assets for one spouse.