The gossip column, at times, is true: Richard Williams, father of tennis stars Venus and Serena, has filed paperwork in Florida to divorce from his wife. Despite Williams’ (relative) celebrity status, the issues at-play resemble those of most high-net-worth divorces. There are financial uncertainties – and rumors of foul play. There are child custody considerations. There are concerns about whether the spouses, in light of their marital problems, can reach accord.
The accusations swirling
Richard married his soon-to-be ex-wife, Lakeisha, seven years ago. Despite their difference in age – he was 68 at the time, she was 31 – he was confident that theirs was a “love match made in heaven.” After two years, they had a son. But it appears that it didn’t take long for discord to begin making its mark.
Reportedly, Richard has accused Lakeisha of stealing his Social Security payments and forging his signature to gain control of several cars and a house that he owned. For her part, Lakeisha has alleged that Richard acted “recklessly and dangerously with guns,” such that she feared for the safety of their son.
It’s unclear as yet whether either spouse’s claims are true. Actually, the accusations are shocking as they are common. Spouses entering divorce proceedings often blame one another for misbehavior, at times going so far as to file criminal charges. Frequently, there are ulterior motives are at play: the accusations are gambits in a game to leverage a better spousal support agreement through the courts, or obtain a more favorable custody arrangement or parenting plan.
The likely outcomes
The stakes are high for the Williamses. Through his daughters’ success, Richard has accumulated a good deal of wealth, and he is likely to go to great lengths to protect it. Lakeisha, meanwhile, appears intent on retaining custody of their son, and ensuring she obtains the means to support him comfortably.
Many spouses, working with qualified lawyers, are able to devise agreements on their own pertaining to parenting plans and asset division. Even rancorous couples often see that collaborating (even if through intermediaries) can save them time, money, and stress.
Collaboration seems unlikely in the Williams’ case, however. Rather, their attorneys will be put to use in trial. Both sides appear ready for a showdown. Richard initiated the proceedings aggressively. And Lakeisha’s lawyer has already asserted that Richard has levied his claims “to avoid paying child support and alimony” and that all of the allegations “will be proven false when we litigate the case in court.”