Judge Rules in Favor of Stephens' Estate in Case Brought by Mary Anne Shula

by Mark Friedman  on Thursday, May. 13, 2010 11:27 am  

A Pulaski County Circuit Court judge ruled on Tuesday that the estate of Jackson T. "Jack" Stephens doesn't have to post a bond to secure annual alimony payments to Stephens' ex-wife, Mary Anne Shula.

Shula, who is married to NFL Hall of Fame Coach Don Shula, divorced Stephens in 1991. As part of the divorce settlement, Stephens agreed to pay his ex-wife $1 million a year for life.

After Stephens' death in 2005, Mary Anne Shula has been in several courtroom fights with her former stepson, Warren A. Stephens, the CEO of Stephens Inc. and co-executive of the estate, over the trust fund that was created to provide her with the alimony payments.

The latest battle stemmed from Stephens asking Pulaski County Circuit Court Judge Ellen Brantley for permission to distribute some jewelry and painting from his father's estate. He also wanted to distribute $41.1 million from the estate, which has $42 million in it, to Jack Stephens' other son, Jackson T. "Steve" Stephens.

Shula objected to the move, fearing that the assets of the estate would be drained.

Court filings show that as of March 31, the trust which was established to pay the alimony had assets of $17.9 million, which included a $15.5 million promissory note from Warren Stephens and $2.4 million in cash or in a money-market fund.

Stephens' attorneys argued in their court filings that the trust has enough money to pay Shula, who is 64, until she reached 102 "well beyond her life expectancy."

Brantley agreed and allowed the estate to make the distributions.

Shula's attorney, Gary Rogers of Little Rock, didn't return a call for comment.



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