In an unusual twist, former supermodel Christie Brinkley is fighting to keep her divorce case open to the public, including the press. Celebrities are notorious for seeking ways in which to keep their legal and personal battles away from the eyes and ears of the media. In this case, however, Brinkley feels that an open courtroom is the only way to repair her reputation from allegations and insinuations made by her estranged husband, architect Peter Cook.
Brinkley filed for divorce in July 2006 after 10 years of marriage. The former couple has two children: Sailor, age 9 and Jack, age 12 (Jack was Brinkley’s son by a former marriage but was adopted by Cook). An attorney appointed to represent the interests of the children (generally called a guardian ad litem) has asked the court to keep the proceedings closed to protect the children. Several media outlets have, of course, filed motions in support of Brinkley’s position.
The couple split when it was revealed that he had been having a year-long affair with his 18 year old intern/assistant. Cook has admitted the affair, saying “I’m sorry. I’m contrite. I’m stupid. Foolish. No excuse.” Sources now claim that Brinkley has more dirty laundry to air. And if she has it her way, it will be aired in a public courtroom. Brinkley will supposedly allege that Cook trolled Internet porn sites and regularly logged on to swingers sites in search of women.
The couple – both wealthy prior to their marriage – did apparently execute a prenuptial agreement. Newsday reports that Cook is challenging the prenup with regard to three boats and several New York properties as well as some personal property. New York is not a community property state. Instead, property is handled by equitable distribution. If the prenuptial agreement is found invalid or unenforceable, a judge will divide the marital property in a fair and just manner. Brinkley’s allegations regarding Cook’s behavior will be considered when the judge determines what exactly is “fair and just” in the circumstances.
New York does allow no-fault divorces where the parties have lived separately for at least one year. But Brinkley is clearly seeking an at-fault divorce on the grounds of adultery (and possibly cruelty, depending on the details of her further allegations). Her allegations could also potentially trigger provisions in the prenuptial agreement by which the property distribution would be altered if either party was guilty of gross misconduct within the marriage.
It is unclear whether the couple is still fighting over the custody of the children (although the continued presence of the guardian ad litem suggests that the permanent custody arrangement may still be up in the air). Cook’s behavior can also be taken into account for purposes of determining custody and visitation.
Brinkley is represented by Manhattan attorney Robert S. Cohen, who has previously represented NYC Mayor and billionaire Michael Bloomberg, actor James Gandolfini, music producer and Mariah Carey-ex Tommy Mottola and both of Donald Trump’s ex-wives, Ivana Trump and Marla Maples. Cook’s attorney is Norman Sheresky who represented Gandolfini’s wife in their divorce as well as many other wealthy New Yorkers. The Brinkley-Cook divorce trial is scheduled to begin in early July and is expected to last four weeks.