Divorce can bring a great deal of unwanted strain and heartbreak. Public
figures that are in the midst of such a proceeding have the added burden
of media attention and scrutiny. One well known figure in Georgia may
be experiencing that after his wife of 21 years filed for divorce.
Vanessa Long, wife of influential church leader Bishop Eddie Long, recently
filed for divorce. In the wake of the filing, Mr. Long announced that
he will take a sabbatical to focus on his family. Mr. Long's spokesman
said the church leader told his congregation during services that he will
continue to serve as senior pastor. The spokesman did not discuss the
length of Mr. Long's sabbatical.
The divorce filing follows allegations that were made against Mr. Long
last year. Four young men claimed that Mr. Long used his wealth and authority
to entice them into sexual relationships. Although Mr. Long settled the
cases, he never admitted to doing anything wrong.
It appears there is no hope for reconciliation and Vanessa Long asked the
court for alimony, attorneys' fees, and an equal division of property.
Bishop Eddie Long was appointed Pastor of New Birth Missionary Baptist
Church in 1987. At the time, there were only 150 members. Now, there are
close to 25,000 members of the congregation.
There is much at stake for a high-asset divorce case such as this one,
which makes it vital that both parties have a firm understanding of family
law. Although it is uncertain how things will unfold, the marital troubles
of the Longs will probably continue to generate public interest, but it
may be in their best interest to focus on ensuring their legal rights
are protected and that they are treated fairly.