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Judge overturns 'Empire' star's divorce agreement

Terrence Howard's personal life has been starting to rival that of his character in his hit television show "Empire." The 46-year-old Academy Award-nominated actor has been battling his second ex-wife Michelle Ghent in court over their 2012 divorce settlement.

On Aug. 24, a judge ruled in Howard's favor and overturned the settlement. Howard claimed that his wife had coerced him into agreeing to the settlement by threatening to reveal private information. This reportedly included a nude video of him and recordings of sexually-explicit phone conversations with other women.

The judge determined that the "evidence of extortion or duress was unrebutted." Reportedly his wife's attorneys did not submit a sworn statement from her before the hearing began, so she was not allowed to testify. However, the judge did hear a phone call from 2011 in which Ghent threatened to sell information about him if he didn't send her money that day. He reportedly gave her $40,000 in what he called "blood money." Howard told the judge that if this private information had gotten out, his acting career would have been over.

While Howard issued a statement after the ruling saying that he "could not be any more pleased," he didn't come out of the hearing looking good. Ghent, who still has a restraining order against her ex-husband, has accused him of being violent toward her on more than one occasion. Even the judge said, "There's no question in my mind Terrence Howard is a bully." However, he added, "Just because you're a bully doesn't mean you can't be bullied."

Now it looks as though Howard, who has since married and divorced again, will have to renegotiate the terms of his divorce agreement with Ghent. Whether this new agreement, like the one that was just thrown out, will give Ghent a share of Howard's "Empire" earnings, remains to be seen.

Obviously, no one should be pressured or blackmailed into signing a divorce agreement. If you believe that you are, you should never try to deal with it on your own. The best course of action is to notify your family law attorney immediately.

Source: StarTribune, "Judge overturns Terrence Howard's divorce settlement after finding actor coerced by ex-wife," Anthony McCartney, AP, Aug. 24, 2015

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