Bill Murray's wife files for divorce, seeks a restraining order

Broken Flowers for Bill

By Jeffrey Cottrill
Updated: July 23, 2014
celebrity divorce news

A certain movie star's personal life is about to undergo a Quick Change. Jennifer Butler Murray, the wife of veteran comedian and actor Bill Murray, filed for divorce earlier this month -- and has made some startling allegations about his private behavior in requesting a restraining order against him.

The Charleston Post and Courier obtained court documents in which Butler Murray, a Hollywood costume designer who has worked on several of her husband's movies, accused Murray of "adultery, addiction to marijuana and alcohol, abusive behavior, physical abuse, sexual addictions, and frequent abandonment."

Butler Murray, 42, filed her papers in Charleston, South Carolina on May 12. She owns a home on Sullivan's Island, SC and lives there with her and Murray's children. They've been separated for more than a year, according to the divorce petition.

Murray's wife claims in her court complaints that the famed Saturday Night Live alumnus "would often leave the state or country without telling" anyone and that Murray often had "travels overseas where he engaged in public and private altercations and sexual liaisons". She moved with the children to the new Sullivan's Island home in 2006 to escape Murray's alleged physical abuse.

The court documents add: "The latest altercation occurred in November 2007 at Sullivan's Island, when the defendant hit [Butler Murray] in the face and then told her she was 'lucky he didn't kill her'." Butler Murray also claims that the star "has left threatening messages on the home telephone which the minor children have heard" in the court papers.

Officially, Butler Murray has filed for divorce "on the grounds of adultery, physical cruelty, habitual addiction to drugs, and one-year separation". She also wants to keep the family home while obtaining a restraining order against Murray -- as well as any potential female companion of his -- banning him from the property due to "physical abuse... his abandonment, his emotional instability, his refusal to seek treatment for the same, and his adultery". Overall, Murray's supposed "violent, abusive, and erratic behavior toward [the] plaintiff destroyed the marital relationship between the parties, and [the] plaintiff no longer feels safe being in the presence of [the] defendant."

Butler Murray has requested sole custody of her four sons with Murray, Caleb (15), Jackson (12), Cooper (11), and Darius, who will turn seven on May 30. She has asked the court to determine whether her prenuptial agreement with Murray is still valid; both Murray and Butler Murray agreed in the prenup to waive spousal or child support but that Murray would pay her $7 million within 60 days of a final divorce judgment.

And what does Murray's side have to say about all this? Hard to say, since the legendary comic is so detached from the Hollywood scene and the media that he doesn't even have an agent, manager, or publicist. However, several news sources (including E! Online, The Associated Press, and People) have quoted Murray's family lawyer, John McDougall, on the case. "We cannot comment on the facts of the case," McDougall said on May 29. "I can say that Bill Murray is deeply saddened by the breakup of his marriage to Jennifer.

"They remain loving parents," the attorney added, "committed to the best interest of their children. And Mr. Murray asks the public [to] respect his family's privacy at this difficult time."

This is Bill Murray's second divorce. He was wed to Margaret Kelly from 1981 to 1994 and has two adult sons from that marriage. He married Jennifer Butler on the fourth of July in 1997.

Murray, 57, began his comedy career with Chicago's Second City troupe in the 1970s, soon became a star on SNL, and had leading roles in such hit comedy movies as Caddyshack, Stripes, Ghostbusters, and Groundhog Day. He later received critical acclaim for his performances in several Wes Anderson films, and in 2004, he received an Academy Award nomination for Lost in Translation.

What About Bill? We hope the allegations about his abusive behavior are just a wild exaggeration at most; if not, maybe everybody's favorite smart-ass will finally have an epiphany and seek professional help. Click here for information on spousal abuse and ways to end it.

For more articles on creating a healthy environment after your divorce:
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May 29, 2008

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