Vanessa Haydon Trump, the wife of President Donald Trump’s eldest son, Donald John Trump Jr., filed for divorce on Thursday afternoon in New York City. She is currently seeking an uncontested divorce to end her 12-year marriage to Donald Jr.
Uncontested Divorce In New York
In an uncontested divorce, the spouses negotiate a resolution to all their divorce-related issues, including child custody and support, spousal support (alimony), and property division.
“In New York, an uncontested divorce is filed after the parties and their lawyers have resolved all of the issues in their divorce and have memorialized it in a Divorce Settlement Agreement,” says James Nolletti, an accomplished divorce attorney with over three decades of experience practicing family law in New York, and the founder of the Nolletti Law Group in White Plains. “If and when that is done, they will make an application to the court for the signing of a Judgment of Divorce.”
If the couple signed a premarital agreement before their marriage, then that agreement will likely govern issues such as how to divide their assets and the length and duration of spousal support (if any).
About Donald Trump Jr. and Vanessa Trump
Donald Trump Jr. (40) is the eldest child of the President’s first wife, Ivana Trump – a Czech-American businesswoman, former columnist for Divorce Magazine, and former Olympic athlete and fashion model. Donald Jr. campaigned for his father’s presidential campaign, and he often defends his father’s administration on Fox News and on his Twitter account. He and his younger brother, Eric (34), work for a trust that controls The Trump Organization’s assets while his father is President.
Raised on New York’s posh Upper East Side, before her marriage, Vanessa (also 40) was a model at the Wilhelmina Agency. She once appeared on the cover of Australian version of Harper’s Bazaar, and she is rumored to have dated Leonardo DiCaprio when she was 20.
In 2003, Trump Sr. introduced his son to Vanessa at a fashion show. Married at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Florida on November 12, 2005, the couple had five children together – two daughters and three sons – between 2007 and 2014.
Donald Trump Jr. and Vanessa Trump’s Joint Statement About Their Decision to Divorce
“After 12 years of marriage, we have decided to go our separate ways,” the couple said in a joint statement. “We will always have tremendous respect for each other and our families. We have five beautiful children together and they remain our top priority. We ask for your privacy during this time.”
White House special counsel Robert S. Mueller III has been scrutinizing a meeting Donald Jr. had with Russians connected to the Kremlin on June 9, 2016 – a meeting in which they allegedly offered damaging information on Hillary Clinton.
Will This Divorce End Vanessa Trump’s Immunity to Testifying Against Donald Jr.?
Their divorce could end Vanessa’s spousal testimonial immunity – meaning that she might have to answer Mueller’s questions regarding Donald Jr.’s alleged collusion with Russia.
“In New York, there is a specific statute – the Husband and Wife Privilege – that says that a husband or a wife shall not be required without the consent allowed to disclose a confidential communication made by one spouse to the other during the marriage,” explains Nolletti. “This Privilege is applicable in both civil and criminal proceedings, but you have to meet certain elements, including that:
- it is a communication
- the communication has to be induced by the marital relationship
- it has to be made to a spouse in confidence
- it has to be made during the marriage
- it has to not have been previously waived or subject to one of the exceptions.”
What Protection Does Spousal Privilege Offer Vanessa Trump and Donald Trump Jr.?
In this particular instance – the investigation of Russian collusion – Nolletti says that the privilege against disclosure of confidential communications made by one spouse to the other does not extend to discussions in which they are jointly advancing a criminal conspiracy, jointly advancing a crime, or assisting each other to commit a crime. “That is not a privileged communication,” he points out.
However, he adds, if one spouse comes home from work one day and tells the other in confidence, ‘Today, I embezzled money from my employer,’ that is not a joint criminal conspiracy – and if they’re not discussing ongoing crimes, that conversation would be protected by spousal privilege. “If the statement were made in the presence of a third party, it would not protected by spousal privilege,” he adds.
There are similar statutes in all the states, but since they filed in New York, the New York statute would apply to their action, says Nolletti.
Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore www.flickr.com/photos/gageskidmore