Dick Wolf's ex-wife loses her case in a California appeals court

It's been over 15 years since the creator of the Law & Order franchise, Dick Wolf, and his wife divorced. However, Christine Wolf has continued to fight for money she believes she was cheated out of because of information that wasn't shared with her when the two reached their divorce settlement.

Mrs. Wolf received a settlement that included $17.5 million in cash, $2 million a year in spousal support for eight years and a home in Maine. That was based in part on a $4 million valuation of Law & Order.

That might seem unusually small for a hit series and spinoffs that had already been running for years. However, evidence was presented that it was a money-losing proposition for NBCUniversal.

After the divorce settlement was finalized, Wolf reached a new billion-dollar deal with NBCUniversal. Christine Wolf says she learned about the deal when it was reported in the Los Angeles Times.

She attempted to get the couple's original settlement set aside on the grounds that her husband and financial advisors had concealed the fact that he was in talks with the company for a deal that could net him considerably more than the money on the table in the settlement. She also claimed that the person who acted as a mediator in the divorce -- the couple's business manager -- was biased toward her husband.

A trial judge ruled against Mrs. Wolf in her fraud case and denied her request to obtain documents she claimed would prove her assertions. The judge also ruled there was no evidence that the man who mediated their settlement -- with whom she continued to have a business relationship -- acted to help her husband. Last month, a California appeals court upheld that judge's ruling.

Timing can be crucial in divorce settlements. Spouses can find ways to put off the payment of bonuses, for example, until after a divorce is final so they don't have to share them with their spouses.

If considerable assets are at stake in your divorce, it may be worth the time and money to have professionals look into your spouse's financial dealings to help spot any pending deals or payments. It's typically best if the people providing advice and helping you make decisions don't have a loyalty to either you or your spouse. Your attorney can help you get the professional guidance you need to seek a fair settlement.

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