Rupert Murdoch Files For No-Fault Divorce

Rupert Murdoch

Today, Rupert Murdoch, the 82-year-old CEO of News Corp. and one of the wealthiest men in America, filed for a “no-fault” divorce from his third wife, Wendi Deng (44), after 14 years of marriage. The divorce papers were filed in New York State Supreme Court and cited only an “irretrievable breakdown of the marriage.”

Yale-educated Deng was working for News Corp. subsidiary Star TV in Hong Kong when she met Murdoch in 1997. The couple married in 1999, just a few weeks after the ink dried on his divorce from second wife, Anna Torv Murdoch. In that well-publicized divorce, Torv received a $1.7 billion settlement – believed to be the largest divorce settlement in history.

While the divorce from Deng could prove to be, well, costly, it doesn’t appear that it will necessarily get ugly based on the following.

Murdoch and Deng Appear Civil

Murdoch seems to have a soft spot for Deng. He’s given her well-deserved props for her professional accomplishments, including her work in film production and for her quick reflexes at a 2011 British parliamentary hearing on allegations of News Corp.’s phone hacking. When a protestor threw a shaving cream-flavored pie in Murdoch’s face, Deng, a former competitive volleyball player, sprang into action and gave the protestor a serious smack. The exchange, which was caught on film, went viral and was dubbed “the slap heard around the world.” Murdoch later thanked Deng for coming to his defense.

If Valid, the Prenuptial Agreement Will Control the Outcome

It’s been reported that the couple signed a prenuptial agreement before their marriage. With Murdoch’s wealth – his net worth is estimated to be roughly $11.2 billion – it would be shocking if they hadn’t.

If Deng doesn’t fight the prenup, or if she does contest it and the prenup is found to be valid, it will likely control both alimony and the division of any property. New York laws tend to favor the enforcement of premarital agreements, and Murdoch’s legal team probably wrote a reasonable, iron-clad prenup that will hold up in court.

The couple does have two daughters together though, so child support may still be an issue. Generally, couples cannot contract around child support and custody laws in a prenup. Courts don’t typically enforce prenuptial provisions that attempt to predetermine child support or custody. Instead, judges have the final say on child-related issues at the time of divorce.

Murdoch Cited Only No-Fault Grounds For the Divorce

Finally, Murdoch filed for a “no-fault” divorce, which is based on an “irretrievable breakdown of the marriage” for more than six months. This means that he‘s not blaming his wife for the divorce; he’s simply stating that he and Deng have grown apart to the point where the marriage isn’t salvageable.

With a no-fault divorce in New York, neither spouse needs to point the finger at the other with specific allegations of bad conduct, so there’s no need to air out any dirty laundry in court. In all likelihood, Murdoch and Deng will negotiate a private and confidential divorce settlement in a fancy New York lawyer’s office, without setting foot in a public courthouse.

To learn more about prenuptial agreements, see Prenuptial Agreements – An Overview, and Prenuptial Agreements, by Katherine Stoner and Shae Irving, J.D.

To learn more about no-fault divorce in New York, see New York Grounds for Divorce