On the show “The Real Housewives of Atlanta,” Sheree Whitfield expressed a desire for a “seven figure” settlement from her ex-husband and former Falcon player Bob Whitfield. She has since said very little about the case because of legal wranglings. She received a settlement last year but wasn’t happy with it. So she has appealed it all the way to the Georgia Supreme Court. The case is scheduled to be heard Monday, January 12. Her attorneys painted her a high school graduate with limited skills to earn income, arguments for alimony she did not receive. This agreement meant she wouldn’t be able to stay at her $2.6 million home.
She receives $113,422 a year from the divorce, not enough for her live the lifestyle she’s used to and clearly not at the level of what the hit Bravo show conveys. Sheree also received a lump sum of $775,000, shares of Whitfield’s retirement pension, nearly half of the marital property and child support.
Here are all the facts provided by the Georgia Supreme Court public information officer:
The ex-wife of a former Atlanta Falcons football player is appealing a Fulton County court’s refusal to grant her alimony and a new trial. Under a 2003 pilot project, the high court has agreed to review all challenges to final divorce decrees that are not deemed frivolous.
Bob and Sheree Whitfield separated after three years of marriage in 2003 and divorced after seven in 2007. They have two children, who were 8 and 11 at the time of the divorce.
Bob Whitfield, 36, is a recently retired NFL player who once played for the Atlanta Falcons. Sheree Whitfield currently appears on the popular reality TV show, “Real Housewives of Atlanta.”
The trial court awarded her custody of the children and $2,142.87 a month in child support. It also awarded her a division of the marital property totaling more than $1.1 million and including a lump sum payment of $775,000. It gave her half of the marital portion of three NFL retirement plans. But the court did not award alimony.
The court awarded him nearly all the real estate, including four homes, and the recording studio, Patchwerks, which he founded. Her lawyers moved for a new trial over the denial of alimony. The lower court denied the motion, and she now appeals to the Supreme Court.
Her attorneys argue that based on her lack of education and inability to earn income, the court abused its discretion by not awarding alimony and then ordering her and the children out of their $2.6 million home in Sandy Springs.
Under state law, the trial court must consider a number of factors in determining the amount of alimony, including the standard of living established during the marriage, the duration of the marriage, the financial resources of each party and the time necessary for a party to acquire sufficient education and training to get a job.
Her ex-husband not only received an $8 million signing bonus as part of a $30 million six-year contract, but he is also a sophisticated businessman with investment properties in Costa Rica, California and Atlanta, as well as founder and owner of a “world-class” recording studio, from which he draws $50,000 annually.
To enhance his earning power, he has returned to Stanford University. She, on the other hand, has devoted her time to raising the couple’s two young children. The clothing boutique she managed for a brief time, “Bella Azul,” quickly failed under her management and oversight, her attorneys point out. With only a high school degree, she depended on her husband, with whom she had been in a relationship for 14 years.
Despite her lack of education, marketable job skills and employment prospects, the court wrongly denied her alimony, even though her husband’s monthly income is almost 12 times her. The failure to award alimony is also contrary to the best interests of the children, her attorneys contend. Without alimony, she cannot afford to buy another home in the neighborhood where they have grown up, have friends and go to school.
His attorney argues that even though the marriage was “very short-term,” she was awarded 48 percent of the marital estate and a part of three retirement plans. Alimony is authorized but not required under state law, and the trial court did not abuse its discretion by not awarding any to her.
“The trial court left no stone unturned in regard to determining the assets and incomes of the parties,” his lawyer argues in the briefs. From the divorce, she receives a total yearly income of $113,422. In addition, she gets a portion of three NFL retirement programs. His attorney argues she should be fined $2,500 for bringing a frivolous appeal solely for the purpose of delaying the time when she’ll have to vacate the Sandy Springs home.