Divorce laws in the United States can have far-reaching consequences. This is what celebrities and high earners in California are beginning to discover, thanks to a series of bills designed to protect the survivors of domestic abuse. At face value, these bills may seem completely unrelated to financial matters. But as we all know, even slight changes to certain laws can create a domino effect that cascades throughout many other aspects of life in the United States. In this particular situation, changes to domestic abuse laws in California are indirectly affecting the earning capacity of major Hollywood celebrities. But how exactly did this happen, and what are these new domestic abuse laws all about?

Gavin Newsom’s New Domestic Abuse Laws Explained

Back in 2020, Gavin Newsom signed a number of new bills that were geared toward helping survivors of domestic abuse. One particular bill took aim at isolation-related abuse that was becoming quite common during the pandemic – specifically verbal abuse. The actual bill describes this as “destroying the mental or emotional calm of the other party.” However, family courts in California have interpreted this as verbal abuse. In other words, having a particularly dramatic and loud verbal argument with your spouse can constitute domestic abuse. 

The bill also mentions “coercive control,” which might include things like:

  • Keeping a spouse away from family or friends
  • Controlling a spouse’s movement
  • Controlling a spouse’s communications
  • Controlling a spouse’s financial freedom
  • Threatening a spouse
  • Intimidating a spouse

Senator Susan Rubio introduced the bill, specifically stating that it includes “psychologically damaging and abusive behavior.”

What This Means for Celebrities in California

Everyone agrees that psychological abuse is wrong. But what happens when something as simple as shouting at your spouse becomes illegal? As we are witnessing firsthand, this can quickly become a slippery slope. Not only can celebrities (and anyone else, for that matter) face permanent criminal charges, but they may also suffer a major blow to their reputation. This is despite the fact that these charges can be laid without any violence or even the threat of violence. “Psychologically damaging and abusive behavior” is such a broad, open-ended term that it could include virtually anything. 

The end result is that public figures and celebrities in Hollywood run the risk of losing income if they are merely accused of this behavior. Because this can result in criminal charges, the information can go public without a divorce ever being filed. And if the spouses go through with a divorce, the details of the alleged psychological abuse can also become public knowledge. 

As we have seen many times before, these accusations can lead to celebrities being completely blacklisted from Hollywood. Even if they were accused of merely raising their voice during an argument, this could be blown way out of proportion by the media, causing the actor or musician to never work again in the entertainment industry. 

As one legal expert rightly pointed out, this can actually backfire on anyone who accuses their celebrity spouse of psychological abuse. If these disputes lead to divorce, what happens when the celebrity can no longer earn a living? The other spouse suddenly loses the ability to receive spousal support, child support, and many other financial benefits associated with divorce. In other words, everyone loses.