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Divorce is a messy business, but what happens to a couple’s joint assets when they split but aren’t married? That’s the case with Ariana Madix and Tom Sandoval, the longtime Vanderpump Rules couple who split after Sandoval’s affair with a mutual friend. The couple never married, but built businesses together, bought a home – and Madix reportedly made at least $1 million in new gigs and merch post breakup.

Coined “Scandoval” Madix and other cast members quickly cashed in on what became one of the biggest scandals in reality TV history. And while Madix and Sandoval sort through and divide their assets, consider selling their $2 million home, what happens if one partner makes bank post-split? Is Madix’s new income considered community property and Sandoval can claim half?

Family law attorney and Real Housewives of New York City star Eboni K. Williams told Showbiz Cheat Sheet that because Madix and Sandoval never married, he is not entitled to the money she’s made off of Scandoval. However, if they had married, it would be an entirely different story.

Tom Sandoval could claim Ariana Madix’s new fortune if they were married

Williams said the only reason why Sandoval is not entitled to any of the money Madix recently made is because they aren’t married. “But that’s the benefit of not being married,” Williams said. “Because if they were still married that all would be included in the property even though they have separated.”

Ariana Madix, Andy Cohen, Lisa Vanderpump, Tom Sandoval sit together at the 'Vanderpump Rules' reunion
Ariana Madix, Andy Cohen, Lisa Vanderpump, Tom Sandoval | Nicole Weingart/Bravo via Getty Images

Madix and Sandoval split in March 2023, immediately after she learned of the affair. By June, the ad endorsements and movie roles could have easily allowed her to make at least $1 million. So, “That would still be his wife. That’s marital property. He could even argue that she’s profiting off of their love story,” Williams said.

Eboni K. Williams says common law marriage doesn’t apply

Williams, who hosts the Interval Presents Holding Court podcast said dividing assets and the split will be extremely messy. “And there’s no such thing, contrary to popular belief, in most jurisdictions in America, as common law marriage. That’s not a thing,” she said.

“So what they’re going to have to end up doing with both the property and the business is hope that there was some preexisting documentation, at least as it pertains to the businesses around what that split will look like. The property, I really don’t advise people that aren’t married to buy property together.”

“So if they’re both on the deed and both on the mortgage, someone’s going to have to buy someone out,” she continued. “I heard today she’s getting the bag, Ariana [laughs]. Or they’ll have to put it on the market, sell it and split the proceeds.”

Does Eboni K. Williams recommend a mediator or lawyer for Tom Sandoval and Ariana Madix?

In some cases, a mediator is an option for some divorces or breakups. Williams doesn’t advise it in this case. “As contested as this looks between those two, I would have my own lawyer. With a mediator that’s when it’s amicable. That’s when it’s like, you know, we’ve grown apart. No harm, no foul. Let’s save money on legal fees. Get one mediator. Figure this out for both of us. They’re not, and so it’s wartime,” she said.


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Williams and her podcast co-host Dustin Ross discuss other messy scandals like Scandoval on her Holding Court podcast. Most recently they examined the divorce fallout between Real Housewives of Atlanta‘s Kim Zolciak and Kroy Biermann’s messy breakup.