By Ariel Sosna and Sarah Van Voorhis Van Voorhis & Sosna
Fans of The Real Housewives of Atlanta know that lawyer/mortician Phaedra Parks, whose show tagline is “you can’t always get what you want, but I can,” is used to winning her cases. Parks and her husband, Apollo Nida, have an explosive relationship that’s now headed for divorce. The two married immediately after Nida completed a prison stint, but it seems his latest time behind bars is too much for Parks, who filed for divorce not long after Nida received an eight-year prison sentence for laundering money and cashing stolen checks.
When Parks began the divorce, she served Nida, who then asked for extra time to respond. Nida didn’t respond, and Parks continued with a default judgment, which was granted in July 2016. For some reason, Nida then filed his own petition for divorce in November and sought to set aside Parks’ judgment when he was informed he could not file for divorce because he was already divorced. In March 2017, the judge granted the set-aside, which means Nida and Parks are still married.
News outlets reported that the court granted the set-aside based on a few factors:
1. Nida’s last name was spelled incorrectly on pleadings;
2. Nida seemed to believe there would be further hearings which he could attend from prison (neither is true);
3. Nida claims assets were not disclosed, specifically a marital home, businesses and millions in personal property; and
4. Nida was not informed of the final divorce hearing and was not served with the final judgment.
Apparently, the judge felt the misspelling of the name was on purpose, which would certainly indicate he does not trust Parks.
The Parks and Nida divorce is taking place in Georgia ,and like Georgia, California offers a number of options to set aside a judgment. Most options for the set-aside of a divorce are the same as those available for any civil judgment, but some are unique to family law. Family Code §2120 et. seq. provides Nida with relief on a number of possible grounds such as fraud, perjury, duress, mental incapacity, mistake, or failure to comply with the financial disclosure requirements. See Family Code §2122. Regardless of the grounds alleged, the court must find that “the facts alleged as the grounds for relief materially affected the original outcome and that the moving party would materially benefit from the granting of the relief.” Family Code § 2121(b). Given the reported allegations from Nida, a number of grounds are available to him, but probably fraud or failure to comply with the financial disclosure requirements are the most likely basis. Georgia is an “equitable distribution” state, and therefore all assets are back on the table for the court to divide.
Parks may have to accept that at the end of season nine of the series, she won’t get what she wants.