Over the course of the last year, Brian France, chairman and CEO of NASCAR, has been engaged in a prolonged and bitter legal battle concerning his ability to keep divorce-related documents sealed from the public.
While the terms of the separation agreement reached with his former wife Megan France back in 2008 were made public some time ago — $9 million, $42,000 a month in alimony and $10,000 a month in child support for a decade — the actual divorce file had remained sealed from the public until last Wednesday.
For those unfamiliar with the story, France’s attorneys sought to enforce the confidentiality provisions of the divorce settlement shortly after it was executed, arguing that France “was entitled to a sealed court file not only in that matter but in all future civil actions related to the agreement.”
North Carolina law dictates that while most divorces and divorce hearings are treated as matters of public record, a judge does have the option of sealing records in high-profile divorce and child custody cases.
The trial court judge ultimately granted France’s motion to keep the documents sealed. However, The Charlotte Observer and a local television station both appealed to the North Carolina Court of Appeals, which determined that France’s interest in keeping the litigation private was outweighed by the public right to an open legal proceeding.
This sparked a series of back and forth legal actions, culminating in a decision by the appellate court in late December that the decision of the lower court judge to unseal the documents was indeed valid and should proceed accordingly.
Now that the 2,000-plus page divorce file has finally been unsealed, it sheds some light on some of the acrimony between the two sides, with France chiding his wife for spending a staggering sum of money and Megan France accusing her husband of both verbal abuse and “constant surveillance.”
Most interesting of all is that the documents reveal just how much property was at stake in this high-asset divorce. Specifically, they revealed the following about France:
- In September 2005, his assets totaled over $554 million
- In December 2007, he owned a very impressive fleet of vehicles, including five cars, two jets and a 84-foot yacht
- In December 2007, he owned a very impressive real estate portfolio, including two homes in Charlotte, three condominiums in Daytona Beach, two condominiums in Los Angeles, and a condominium in New York City
To learn more about high-asset divorce, property division or other divorce-related issues, contact an experienced and skilled legal professional.
This post is for informational purposes only and is not to be construed as legal advice.
Source: USA Today, “Divorce case reveals details of Brain France’s finances,” May 8, 2013; Thatsracin.com, “NASCAR CEO France fights to keep divorce private,” Sept. 25, 2012