Shaq Diesel is headed for divorce court.
According to the New York Daily News, O'Neal's wife, Va'shaundya "Shaunie" O'Neal, cited "irreconcilable differences" in her divorce papers last month. TMZ reported that Shaunie has actually filed for legal separation, the first step toward divorce. It is the second time that the couple has begun the process of divorce. In 2007, they were able to reconcile their differences after Shaq filed in Miami.
"Obviously, this is a difficult time for our family, and we request that the media respect our privacy," Shaq said in a statement. "I will continue to focus on being there for our children and I am confident that Shaunie will do the same."
It's ironic that a few months after consummating a new basketball marriage with Lebron James in Cleveland, Shaq's legal marriage is headed for the history books. (Though some think Shaq's latest basketball marriage won't last either. More on that later.)
According to the Daily News:
In addition to asking for an unspecified amount of money for spousal and child support, Shaunie is also seeking sole custody of the couple's four minor children, ages 3 to 9, with visitation rights for O'Neal. Though the couple lives in Florida, Shaunie claimed she's a resident of California, which has more generous community-property divorce provisions. According to People.com, Shaunie recently flew to Los Angeles and claimed herself a resident of the Golden State on Nov. 8, one day before filing the separation papers. This is the second split for Shaunie and Shaq, who originally filed for divorce in 2007. The couple, who reportedly have a prenuptial agreement, eventually reconciled after a bitter dispute over whether or not he was hiding money from her.
The website Bossip reported that O'Neal had an affair with fellow NBA player Gilbert Arenas' now pregnant fiancee, Laura Govan. It also reported that Govan and Shaunie were good friends. Whatever the reason for the divorce, I'm sad to see any once-happy marriage dissolve.
The downside of Shaq's fame is that what should've been a private matter is exposed for public consumption. I'm sure the pressure of always being in the public spotlight did not help the O'Neals.
It also seems shady that O'Neal's wife is now claiming residency in California, when she and Shaq kept a home in Florida. California is known to have more generous divorce laws. Shaq's lawyers are trying to block her new claim.
Between child support and alimony, it seems that Shaunie will be well compensated. Unlike many divorced mothers, she will have the financial resources available to raise their children. Her time now should be spent focusing on the next phase of her life and things that can't be settled with cash, such as fulfillment.
Another issue in their feud was Shaunie's accusation that O'Neal was hiding money from her.
Women and men need to be joint partners in marriage. Even if one partner is a stay-at-home parent or makes less money than the other, that partner should know important details, such as how many bank accounts there are and how much is in them. Even if one partner handles the financial affairs, the other should know how much money is coming in each month, how much money is going out and to whom. Do you know how many credit cards your spouse has?
I hope Shaq and Shaunie can work out their differences. In the meantime, I'm rooting for Shaq's hardwood marriage to culminate in a championship this year so Bron Bron doesn't feel too guilty about divorcing Shaq and bolting to the Knicks next season.