Top lawyers weigh in on what divorce would mean for Melania - MRCAESAR.COM

Wednesday, 4 April 2018

Top lawyers weigh in on what divorce would mean for Melania


Rumors of infidelity have led many Americans to believe Melania Trump may want out of her marriage to the President. (JONATHAN ERNST/REUTERS)
Who gets the White House?
Amid unsubstantiated rumors of marital discord between Melania Trump and her President hubby, top matrimonial lawyers are split on whether the ex-model would have a right to remain at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. if the First Couple split.
It’s uncharted territory, since no American president has ever gotten a divorce while in office.
But eight high-profile lawyers, who either specialize in matrimonial law or have worked on a major divorce case, offered their opinions to the Daily News — as a hypothetical, emphasizing the likelihood of a divorce was slim to none.
Several told The News it's typically impossible to kick an estranged spouse out of the marital home, but that President Trump's commander-in-chief status might give him unusual power over Melania's access.
"I think the President could do whatever the President wants," said Raoul Felder, who repped Rudolph Giuliani in his divorce. Felder unsuccessfully fought attempts from Giuliani's ex to bar the former mayor's paramour from Gracie Mansion.
"The President could put anybody out of the White House," added Felder, explaining Trump could say "’I want the marshals to surround the House and I don't want her to come.’"
The divorce lawyers did unanimously agree, however, that Melania would likely stick it out with Trump during his presidency.(POOL/GETTY IMAGES)
Rebekah Sullivan, a Washington, D.C.-area divorce lawyer, pointed out the difficulties in booting a spouse out of the house, but agreed that Trump's security detail complicates this precedent.
"He would have that same issue that everybody else has — how do you force this person to leave — but he would have the marshals or military or Secret Service or whoever he's using to help him enforce his (decision)," she said.
Cheryl Hepfer, who also practices in Washington, D.C., said the White House's status as a government property could undermine Melania's potential claims to residency rights.
"The Trumps don't own the White House — it's owned by the people of the United States of America," said Hepfer, past president of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers.
"So I don't believe that Mrs. Trump would have the right to secure the residency of the White House if there were divorce proceedings."
Sarah Mancinelli, who repped former Vice President Joe Biden’s son, Hunter Biden, in his divorce, also said ownership is key to this issue.
Divorce lawyers are split on whether the President could actually have Melania removed from the White House. (EVAN VUCCI/AP)
In much of the country, including in Washington, D.C., both sides have a right to live in a "jointly titled home" during divorce, except for extreme circumstances such as domestic violence.
"The White House, however, is not owned by the President and Mrs. Trump," Mancinelli said.
"Perhaps living at the White House is part of the President's compensation package for serving as President of the United States — in which case I would assume it is his right to live there and not Mrs. Trump's," she said.
"If the President and First Lady had signed a lease agreement to reside in the White House, however, then the analysis would be similar to that of a jointly titled home where they both have a shared right to live there."
Sue Moss, a New York City-based lawyer, said while it's possible for Trump to give Melania the boot on national security grounds, it would be unlikely.
"It is certainly conceivable that they will both remain in the White House," Moss said. "The White House is constructed in such a way that the woman has an entire room, bedroom, almost a wing, almost a huge area that is only for her."
The White House declined to comment.

- ny news 

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