Television superstar host Wendy Williams made a name for herself in radio and television with her “shock jock” tactics, usually resulting in a celebrity feud. She has never been afraid to “say it like she means it” about the life choices of the rich and famous, no matter how controversial. The list of the offended is long: Sean Combs, Tupac Shakur, Will Smith, Leann Rimes, and even the late Whitney Houston had something to say about Williams after she questioned their sobriety, their sanity, their morals or “all of the above.” In 2003, when Williams continued to press Houston on-air about her alleged drug problems, Houston famously said to her “if this were back in the day in Newark, I’d meet you outside.”
In what must seem like sweet irony to her celebrity targets, Williams herself is now being scrutinized by the media. People.com reported that shortly after discovering that her husband of twenty-two years (Kevin Hunter) had a baby with his long-time mistress, Williams checked herself into a sober living house to address a cocaine addiction. A month later, Williams announced that she had filed for divorce from Hunter, who had been her manager for most of her career and producer of her show. Unsurprisingly, Hunter is now seeking spousal support (Williams fired him not long after filing for divorce) and child support for their child, Kevin Jr. who is almost 19 years old.
In California, Hunter would be out of luck. Family Code §3901 states that the duty of support to a child lasts until the child has attained the age of 18 years or until the time the child completes the 12th grade or attains the age of 19 years, whichever occurs first. Family Code §3910(a) does provide for child support for an adult child when two conditions are met: (1) the adult child is ‘incapacitated from earning a living’ AND (2) the adult child is ‘without sufficient means.’ California has also decided that adult children cannot independently seek support. (Jones v. Jones (1986) 179 Cal.App.3d 1011).
In California, parents can enter into enforceable contracts to pay for expenses for their children after they reach majority, such as college, but a court cannot order such payments if the parents have not already agreed to them in writing. New Jersey, unlike most states, has no automatic emancipation. A parent can even be forced to pay for graduate school.
Williams’ poison tongue isn’t likely to help her battle Hunter, but it will keep her employed and paying the bills… for everyone.