Judge overturns Terrence Howard's divorce settlement, but says 'Empire' actor is a bully

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Judge Overturns Terrence Howard's Divorce Settlement

Empire star Terrence Howard was victorious in court on Monday, when a judge overturned his divorce settlement with his second wife, Michelle Ghent. Superior Court Judge Thomas Trent Lewis found that the 46-year-old actor was forced to sign the former couple's 2012 agreement under duress, after Ghent threatened to leak private details about the actor -- including phone sex recordings and a video of him nude -- that Howard says would have seriously jeopardized his acting career.

Still, the judge had harsh words for Howard regarding Ghent's domestic violence claims against him. During cross-examination earlier this month, Howard broke down when Ghent's attorney displayed a photo of her with a black eye, though he claimed that any violence against Ghent was in self-defense.

"Terrence Howard is a bully. [But] just because you're a bully doesn't mean you can be bullied," Lewis said.

WATCH: Terrence Howard on Emotional Divorce Settlement Hearing -- I'm 'Sad' This Is So Public

Howard, however, is obviously happy about Monday's ruling, which for now, ends any claim Ghent has to his Empire earnings. Howard had taken Ghent to court to attempt to overturn the couple's previous divorce settlement, which gave Ghent several of the couple's bank accounts as well as a portion of his earnings.

"I could not be any more pleased by today's ruling," Howard said in a statement to ET on Monday. "Judge Lewis's thoroughness and understanding of the law was apparent at every turn in these proceedings, and I am grateful to the Court for its efforts in resolving my case. I am also grateful to my family law attorney Brian Kramer (and the professionals on his team) whose skill and tireless efforts enabled me to secure a terrific ruling from the Court."

Kramer echoed his client's sentiments.

"Today's ruling by one of the most knowledgeable family law jurists in California recognizes that divorce decrees signed with a proverbial gun to one's head cannot withstand judicial scrutiny," Kramer said in a statement. "Today's ruling represents not only a watershed event in the life of Mr. Terrence Howard, whose financial livelihood was hanging in the balance, but it's a precedent setting ruling that will have implications for the entire family law bench and bar in California."

PHOTOS: Terrence Howard at recent events

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Terrence Howard at recent events
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Judge overturns Terrence Howard's divorce settlement, but says 'Empire' actor is a bully
FILE - In this Thursday, Aug. 13, 2015 file photo, actor Terrence Howard walks into a Los Angeles court for a hearing in which he is attempting to overturn a 2012 divorce settlement on the grounds his ex-wife Michelle Ghent extorted him, in Los Angeles. A judge said Monday, Aug. 17, 2015, that he will issue a ruling next week on whether Howard can overturn the divorce settlement that entitles his ex-wife to spousal support payments, including earnings from his work on the hit show, "Empire." (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes, File)
Terrence Howard accepts the award for best actor at the BET Awards at the Microsoft Theater on Sunday, June 28, 2015, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)
Actor Terrence Howard poses during the opening ceremony of the 2015 Monte Carlo Television Festival, Saturday, June 13, 2015, in Monaco. (AP Photo/Lionel Cironneau)
Terrence Howard, left, and Taraji P. Henson perform at the 2015 Spike TV's Guys Choice Awards at Sony Studios on Saturday, June 6, 2015, in Culver City, Calif. (Photo by Phil McCarten/Invision/AP)
Terrence Howard, left, and Taraji P. Henson speak at the 2015 Spike TV's Guys Choice Awards at Sony Studios on Saturday, June 6, 2015 in Culver City, Calif. (Photo by Phil McCarten/Invision/AP)
Terrence Howard attends the 2015 Spike TV's Guys Choice Awards at Sony Studios on Saturday, June 6, 2015, in Culver City, Calif. (Photo by Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP)
Taraji P. Henson, left, and Terrence Howard attend the 2015 Spike TV's Guys Choice Awards at Sony Studios on Saturday, June 6, 2015, in Culver City, Calif. (Photo by Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP)
Terrence Howard speaks on stage at the Oscars on Sunday, Feb. 22, 2015, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. (Photo by John Shearer/Invision/AP)
Terrence Howard speaks on stage during the "Empire" panel at the Fox 2015 Winter TCA on Saturday Jan. 17, 2015, in Pasadena, Calif. (Photo by Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP)
Actor Terrence Howard attends the FOX Network 2014 Upfront event on Monday, May 12, 2014, in New York. (Photo by Andy Kropa/Invision/AP)
Actor Terrence Howard seen at LA Premiere Of "Empire" at Arclight Cinema Dome on Tuesday, January 6, 2015, in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Arnold Turner/Invision/AP)
Terrence Howard arrives at the 45th NAACP Image Awards at the Pasadena Civic Auditorium on Saturday, Feb. 22, 2014, in Pasadena, Calif. (Photo by Arnold Turner/Invision/AP)
Terrence Howard speaks on stage at the 20th annual Screen Actors Guild Awards at the Shrine Auditorium on Saturday, Jan. 18, 2014, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Frank Micelotta/Invision/AP)
Actor Terrence Howard and his wife Miranda pose together at the Beverly Hills Chamber of Commerce's "EXPERIENCE - EastMeetsWest" event on Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2014, in Beverly Hills, Calif. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)
Actor Terrence Howard and his wife Miranda pose together at the Beverly Hills Chamber of Commerce's "EXPERIENCE - EastMeetsWest" event on Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2014, in Beverly Hills, Calif. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)
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Howard and Ghent separated in 2011 after one year of marriage. The divorce was finalized in 2013. Last week, ET learned that Howard also secretly divorced his third wife, Mira Pak. According to divorce documents obtained by ET, Pak filed for divorce in Chicago on March 5 -- two months before the birth of their child, Qirin Love -- citing irreconcilable differences.

NEWS: Terrence Howard Cries in Court During Divorce Settlement Hearing

Howard told ET last week that he was "sad" his courtroom drama has been made public. "To have your personal life exposed between family and shared with the public, I think is a violation of our privacy, and of our constitutional rights," he said. "It needs to be reformed."

Watch below:

Terrence Howard Speaks Out After Emotional Court Day: 'It's A Violation'
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