NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

National News

April 5, 2010

Judge settles key issues in Hopper divorce case

LOS ANGELES — Dennis Hopper's estranged wife and daughter can live on his property while the couple resolve their bitter divorce case and the actor fights prostate cancer, a judge ruled yesterday.

Superior Court Judge Amy Pellman also ordered the actor to pay $12,000 a month in spousal and child support.

Hopper, 73, did not attend the hearing but was repeatedly described by his attorney as "desperately ill."

Hopper's three adult children from previous marriages attended but did not speak.

Pellman sternly told both sides they needed to come together during what appeared to be Hopper's final days.

"It's never one-sided," Pellman said of the family turmoil. "There needs to be street-cleaning on both sides of this street."

The judge noted the couple's 7-year-old daughter is about to undergo the traumatic loss of her father and the rhetoric should be toned down.

"Having her extended family in a war with her mother is not in her best interests," Pellman said.

The rulings came after two months of bickering in court filings, including allegations of abuse by both sides, and jockeying for financial position.

The couple has been married for nearly 14 years. Hopper filed for divorce in January.

"It's heartbreaking and I hope it can be amicably resolved," Victoria Duffy Hopper said after the hearing.

She has been living in a house at her husband's Venice compound, which is also home to one of his adult children.

She has agreed to remain at least 10 feet away from the "Easy Rider" star and avoid the main home on the property.

She said in court filings the divorce was an attempt to cut her out of her inheritance, an accusation that has been denied.

Hopper's attorney, Joseph Mannis, said after the hearing that he was happy with the outcome, aside from the judge awarding Victoria Hopper $200,000 in attorney and accountant fees.

He said his side did not intend to further contest the spousal or child support orders but was preparing for a fight over the couple's prenuptial agreement.

The agreement calls for Victoria Hopper to lose her stake in her husband's estate if they are divorced or not living together when he dies.

Another hearing on how to divide Hopper's life insurance policy will be held in May.

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