Terrence Howard lost a court hearing on Friday and has been ordered to pay his ex-wife $1.3 million in overdue spousal support, plus interest.
A Los Angeles judge refused to grant the Oscar-nominated actor another delay and ruled he owes second wife Michelle Ghent $263,137 in back spousal support and another $1,055,970 due to his surge in income playing patriarch Lucious Lyon on his hit Fox show.
Ghent hugged one of her lawyers and smiled after her victory in the six-year saga.
Howard did not attend the hearing but got a drubbing by the judge.
Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Helen Zukin said Ghent and her lawyers were “forced” to litigate the case for years because Howard refused to pay a divorce judgment entered in May 2013.
“This has gone on long enough,” Zukin said Friday. “The Court of Appeals determined it’s a valid judgment, and it’s time to enforce that judgment.”
The judge set a follow-up hearing for next week to rule on the hefty attorney fees Howard must pay to Ghent’s lawyers after he lost his attempt to overturn the judgment. Altogether, the legal fees are expected to top another $1 million.
“If there had been compliance initially, none of this would have been necessary,” Judge Zukin quipped, saying the fees submitted by Ghent’s lawyers looked “reasonable” and she planned to grant them.
Howard’s lawyer Gary Fishbein argued repeatedly that it was premature for the judge to make her rulings.
He said Ghent’s team failed to file necessary paperwork adding Universal Bridges, a company owned by Howard’s third wife, Mira Pak, to the case.
Howard, 50, has claimed he’s an employee of Universal Bridges and receives a salary of between $105,000 and $250,000 per year.
He also said he’s under criminal investigation by federal authorities in Pennsylvania and deserved a stay in the divorce battle because he couldn’t testify or submit an updated income and expense declaration due to his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination.
The investigation centers on possible financial fraud and tax evasion, according to court filings.
“Terrence has been trying to transform vice into virtue and to use the fact of his own tax evasion as both a sword and a shield,” Ghent’s lawyers Sa’id Vakili and John Schlaff said in June filing.
Now that ‘Empire’ is coming to an end, he better get back on that audition grind! Not everyone can just lose $1.3 million and keep it moving.