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