Gibbons back in divorce court for status check
July 20, 2010
RENO, Nev. (AP) – Sell house. Split bank accounts and annuities. Tools to him; artwork to her. A Model T to each. Piano – a gift from Grandma – and coin collection to son Jimmy.
Two years after Nevada Gov. Jim Gibbons filed for divorce from his wife of more than two decades, the state’s former first couple is still divvying up the spoils of matrimony.
It’s been neither easy nor pretty, but it could be done Wednesday during a two-hour hearing before Washoe Family Court Judge Frances Doherty, whose patience has been taxed.
Gibbons lost the Republican primary in June, becoming the first incumbent governor to lose a nominating election in state history. Though he had other political and personal missteps along the way – exacerbated by an economic implosion – the divorce didn’t help his re-election bid. He lost by a 2-to-1 margin to former federal judge Brian Sandoval.
Gibbons, 65, and first lady Dawn Gibbons, 55, reached a verbal settlement in December, avoiding a public divorce trial.
Not that most of the dirty laundry hadn’t already been splayed in the media – accusations of his infidelities with a former Playboy model and the wife of a Reno doctor, and her alleged rants, described in court papers as akin to an “enraged ferret in a phone booth.”
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Both emerged from the courtroom Dec. 28 with stiff, tired smiles. The governor wore dark sunglasses in the windowless hallway, carrying a box of legal papers.
“This matter is settled,” Gary Silverman, the governor’s lawyer, told the judge that day.
Though Doherty approved the pact and said a decree would be issued within 60 days, that deadline came and went as legal maneuvers continued. In May, the judge chastised both sides for not committing the agreement to writing.
“This court will not be placed in such position,” she wrote.
The December pact called for the governor to pay alimony totaling 25 percent of his gross income for the next five years – about $4,000 a month through the end of this year, when his term as governor ends.
But documents show Gibbons later objected to including his pension earnings as “gross income,” arguing that amounted to “double dipping” since he already agreed to pay $1,450 monthly for Dawn Gibbons’ community share of his pensions.
Cal Dunlap, Dawn Gibbons’ attorney, countered she wouldn’t be “foolish enough” to accept 25 percent of his salary alone, considering the governor’s uncertain employment future.
The judge said pension earnings count toward gross income.
The couple also agreed to sell their Reno home and 40 acres in scenic Lamoille in Elko County.
After months on the market, the sale of the Reno home closed Friday for an undisclosed price. The judge ordered all proceeds to be placed in an escrow account until further order by the court.
The governor has been unable to come up with $275,000 to buy out Dawn’s share of the Elko acreage, something the December agreement called for within 60 days.