If you’re unfamiliar with Erika Girardi, first of all -- please, we’re begging you, watch some Bravo. It’s good for you. Second, OK, fine, we’ll introduce her for you.
Girardi, known professionally as Erika Jayne, is a current cast member of “The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills.” She’s a singer (though she charts on the Dance Club Songs lists, so you’re forgiven if you’ve never heard her music), she’s an actress, she’s even an author -- her memoir, “Pretty Mess,” was published in 2018. She was also cast as Roxie Hart in “Chicago” for its run on Broadway beginning in January 2020 (but we all know how that turned out). Her husband, Tom Girardi, owns his own law firm, Girardi & Keese, in Los Angeles -- he’s one of the attorneys who inspired the film “Erin Brockovich.” This lands her perfectly in between “rich” and “famous.”
But uh, not rich enough, apparently.
The Girardis met at a restaurant in Los Angeles, Chasen’s, where Erika was a recently-divorced cocktail waitress raising a young son and Tom, a regular. Once their courtship began, it was a quick process: Erika moved in with Tom, 33 years her senior, quickly, and they were engaged within six months. They were married in 1999 at Chasen’s, Tom’s third marriage.
The couple, now 49 and 81, has faced some criticism for their age difference, namely that she was after Tom’s money (his net worth hovers around $30 million), which is ironic now, but she’s always been vocal about how ridiculous she finds it. On an episode of “RHOBH,” she said, “I've dealt with this forever: the younger woman that married the wealthier, older man. I mean, I'm tired of having to justify my 20-year marriage. Go get a 20-year marriage, then come f*cking talk to me."
Their marriage, for all that we could see of it, seemed perfectly pleasant, their love legitimate. Erika had also previously revealed in “Pretty Mess” that she and Tom had never signed a prenuptial agreement -- which will come into play later.
Out of nowhere, though, E! News broke the story on Nov. 3 that Erika had filed for divorce after 21 years of marriage.
“After much consideration, I have decided to end my marriage to Tom Girardi. This is not a step taken lightly or easily. I have great love and respect for Tom and for our years and the lives we built together,” she said in a statement to the press. “It is my absolute wish to proceed through this process with respect and with the privacy that both Tom and I deserved. I request others give us that privacy as well.”
Us Weekly reported that Erika requested spousal support from Tom, citing “irreconcilable differences” for the split and asking for Tom to pay her attorney’s legal fees. She also asked the court to block Tom from requesting spousal support from her.
That’s all we got for info about this separation. Until...
Now, though, a number of those families have filed a suit against Tom and Erika, claiming they never received their full settlements from the Boeing case. This case asserts that Girardi & Keese embezzled a huge chunk of that money specifically for the couple’s personal, lavish use (the filing puts it in terms of their “outrageous lifestyles...in the glitz-and-glam world of Hollywood and Beverly Hills,” which is just great writing). The lawsuit against Tom demands that the money is either disbursed to the Lion Air victims’ families or placed in a trust.
Where it gets even messier, though, is that the case has been brought against Erika as well specifically because of the divorce, claiming that the separation is fake, created in order to protect their joint assets. Remember how they don’t have a pre-nup? What’s Tom’s is Erika’s, so in a divorce, she could run off with the embezzled money, protecting it from collection for her and her "estranged" husband.
According to the lawsuit, “While Erika publicly filed for divorce this month, on information and belief, that ‘divorce’ is simply a sham attempt to fraudulently protect Tom’s and Erika’s money from those that seek to collect on debts owed by Tom and his law firm GK.”
They also claim that this isn’t the first time Tom has pulled something like this to pay down debts and continue living large.
Erika, apparently unfazed, posted a photo on Twitter, captioned, “High drama,” on Wednesday following the lawsuit, and then followed it up with a racy photo on Instagram, which is just...very Erika.
What do we think about it?
Foolish. Just foolish.
I mean, Tom, my man, you’re a lawyer. If he was going to do something illegal, shouldn’t he have been better at hiding it? Seems like shoddy work to me, and disgusting, at that. People died in a tragic plane crash, and he’s making a profit? Not on 2020’s watch, Tom.
It’s honestly shocking that instead of simply owning up to the fact that he did a despicable thing and putting the money where it belongs, they’re going through this whole fake divorce to try and get away with it. Has anyone seen the Girardis’ hearts?
I’m also just wondering if they’ll put this in next season of “RHOBH” -- I mean, it’s kind of dark. But the show started filming in October, so it's entirely plausible that we'll see it play out on screen, and I can only imagine what Erika’s confessional interviews will be like. Then again, Kyle Richards, Kathy Hilton and Dorit Kemsley all recently tested positive for COVID-19, so filming is reportedly currently on hold. Man, these women.