DP Family, Alex's Divorce: divorce

Finalizing the Divorce

Alex, her divorce attorney, Lisa March, and her custody attorney, Curtis Fallgater, join Dr. Phil. "You've made some very serious accusations about Chris being physically and emotionally, verbally abusive to you," Dr. Phil says to Alex. "There's just something in my DNA about not putting someone around an abuser without their full consent, and permission and understanding." He asks Alex if she's OK with Chris and his attorney joining her and Lisa onstage.


Alex nods, and Lisa and Curtis agree.


Chris denies Alex's abuse allegations. He and his attorney, Sung Lee, join Alex and Lisa onstage to work out the final details of Alex and Chris' divorce. It's the first time Chris and Alex have seen each other since he was released from jail.


Lisa explains that there are two minor issues standing in the way of the dissolution of the marriage. "The two issues are a tax refund for the prior year that apparently they haven't received yet because they're filling a joint return, and then the question is who gets that money. And then the second thing is an outstanding bill to Kay Jewelers for the wedding ring," she says. "According to my client, they each bought the other one's ring for the wedding. Now she has paid the bill for his ring, and apparently, his bill is unpaid for her ring."


"I'm willing to take money out of the tax refund and pay that off, and a suggestion that I have for the remaining money is to be set aside for our daughter," Chris says. "Emergency funds, maybe insurance, anything she might need in the future. I understand raising a child is unpredictable."


"The concern about setting money aside is then we have to deal with who is in charge of that money, and then who is going to monitor how it is spent," Lisa says. "What we wanted was for Alex to be able to get the money from the tax refund to help with all the expenses that she incurred during the time that her husband was incarcerated, and he wasn't contributing to the support of his daughter. That's where we can't seem to agree."


[AD]"It was actually my suggestion, so that we could move past this divorce and concentrate on Leilah, the more important issue, to use the tax refund money to pay off the debt. If we could accomplish that goal, then we would be down to one issue, what to do with the remaining monies, and logically speaking, you could just divide it 50/50 between the parents," Sung says. "It was actually me who suggested to Chris the idea of maybe putting it in trust for Leilah, with the understanding that both parties would have to sign off in order to release any monies."

Lisa says that Alex has been the sole supporter of Leilah since Chris went to jail. Alex adds that she has over $20,000 in unpaid medical bills from Leilah's delivery. Chris acknowledges that he owes for part of the hospital bills debt as well. 


"I'm not asking anybody to pay for it. I've been paying for it since Leilah was born. I just need help with it, is what I am saying," Alex says.


"Tell me what are you thinking and feeling right now," Dr. Phil says to Alex.


[AD]"He did abandon me," she says, wiping away tears. "I've felt abandoned, whether or not it was true, most of my whole life, by different people at different times. I loved him very much ... And I just feel betrayed, like if you love somebody, why would you treat them like that? Why would you want to hurt them like that?" 


Chris responds. "There is nothing I can do to take that back. It broke my heart how all this ended up. The last thing I ever saw is the divorce coming up out of me getting locked up," he says. "I love Alexandra with all my heart and I will love her until the day I die, and she's the mother of my only child. I am not in love with her anymore. It really breaks my heart to have to see her like this."

Dr. Phil comments that the tax return money is minimal compared to the medical bills that are owed. He addresses Chris. "My suggestion to you, if you want to man up and do the right thing, would be to pay that indebtedness for the ring on your own, give her the tax refund, with the understanding that to the extent that these bills are paid, that you're credited dollar for dollar. If she winds up having to pay even $5,000 on this indebtedness, that you get credited dollar for dollar for what you've already contributed through the tax return," he says. "You're acknowledging the debt, which means you're saying you will be responsible for half of it, but if you give up the tax return, then that goes toward what you would owe on that."


[AD]"I would have no problem giving her every cent of it, if she had Leilah for the nine months, but she did not," Chris says.


"We're talking about that not for the upkeep of the child during that time, but for the medical bills that you've said that you're agreeing to be responsible for half of," Dr. Phil says.


"I think that's just Chris recognizing a moral obligation," Sung says.


"Let's address the tax return," Dr. Phil says.


Sung suggests they use the tax return to pay off the marital debt. 


"I should have to pay for my own wedding band?" Alex asks.  


"Excuse me, I have to say something about this tax return before I explode," Erin interjects. "If they file separate but married tax returns, if Chris files his own tax return, and Alexandra files her own tax return, guess what? Chris is going to have to pay the IRS, because he worked for Marty on a 1099, so why don't we resolve it that way?"


"If the parties want make two wrongs and try to make a right out of it, and that's what they want to do, that's fine. It's not going to benefit anybody," Sung says.  


[AD]"Exactly, and I'm the one feeding Leilah right now, so they need to stop it with the stupid tax return," Erin says.


"Why don't you just let this go to the mother and have an offset of any medical bills that you feel an obligation to get paid?" Dr. Phil asks Chris. "I think you're being penny-wise and pound foolish if you nitpick over this." He tells Chris that opening up a full accounting for all bills is not a good way to go.


"I would've love for the parties to be able to agree to what you are appearing to be recommending," Lisa says.

Alex and Chris discuss Dr. Phil's proposal with their attorneys. Both sides agree to a compromise: The indebtedness that's owned to the jewelry store for the wedding ring will be paid with money from the tax return, and the remainder of the return will be be divided, one half to Alexandra and one half to reimburse Erin for expenses that she's incurred taking care of Leilah.


"That's fine. I'll be happy to pay for my own wedding band," Alex says, noting that she was going to give her mom money either way.


[AD]Chris says he agrees to the decision.


"Obviously, my client's not getting anything out of it, other than trying to send a message of goodwill, a thank you to Ms. Erin for what she's done in the past. That's why he wants her to receive some money and give the remaining monies to Alex," Sung says.


"He has half of the debt for the jewelry," Dr. Phil says. "So he is getting something out of it. So there is consideration."