Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Helen Zukin refused to grant Terrence Howard another delay in his divorce from ex-wife Michelle Ghent and ordered him to pay her $1.3 million in overdue support and interest.
Judge Zukin ruled the actor owed his second wife, Ghent, $263,137 in back spousal support and another $1,055,970, thanks to his increase in income from his role on hit Fox show ‘Empire.’ Zukin said Ghent and her lawyers were “forced” to litigate the case for years because Howard refused to pay a divorce judgment entered on May 2013.
“This has gone on long enough,” Zukin said. “The Court of Appeals determined it’s a valid judgment, and it’s time to enforce that judgment… If there had been compliance initially, none of this would have been necessary.”
The judge scheduled a follow-up hearing for next week to also rule on the attorney fees Howard must pay to Ghent’s attorneys after he lost his attempt to overturn the judgment. The legal fees, which Zukin said she plans to grant, are expected to total another approximate $1 million, according to Daily News.
Howard’s lawyer Gary Fishbein argued that the judge ruled prematurely and that Ghent’s team failed to file the necessary paperwork, adding Universal Bridges, a company owned by Howard’s third wife, Mira Pak, to the case. Howard claims he’s an employee of Universal Bridges and receives a salary of between $105,000 and $250,000 per year.
He also said he deserved a say in the divorce case because he is under criminal investigation by federal authorities in Pennsylvania and couldn’t testify or submit an updated income and expense declaration due to his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. The Pennsylvania investigation is reportedly on possible financial fraud and tax evasion charges.
The judges ruling came shortly after one of Ghent’s lawyers shared time was running out because ‘Empire’ starts its sixth and final season next month. “We need to have the monies held. He’s in the last year of his contract. This is the last bulk of money we can reasonably get before it disappears,” Ghent’s original divorce lawyer Karen Donahoe told the court.