George Zimmerman’s wife filed for divorce Thursday evening, her lawyer confirmed, less than two months after the former Neighborhood Watch volunteer was acquitted of murder in the shooting of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin. Rene Stutzman and Jeff Weiner report for the Orlando Sentinel.
Shellie Zimmerman, 26, was not available for comment, but her attorney confirmed their marriage was over.
“After much soul searching and recent disappointments, Shellie feels compelled to officially end her six-year marriage to George Michael Zimmerman,” said attorney Kelly Sims.
The couple separated on August 13, 2013, according to her divorce filing, and Shellie Zimmerman wants a judge to award her custody of both dogs, Oso, 2-year-old, 120-pound Rottweiler and Leroy, an 8-year-old mixed breed.
“The marriage between the parties is irretrievably broken,” the pleading says.
Shellie Zimmerman is asking for an “equitable distribution” of their assets, property and debts.
She has no income but $12,729 in assets – mostly her 2009 Honda Accord – and $103,756 in debts – mostly school loans, an auto loan and credit card bills.
Since they split, he has given her $4,300 from his legal defense fund, according to the affidavit.
She also asks that George Zimmerman be required to provide her with life insurance.
The Zimmermans were married November 17, 2007, in Daytona Beach in a ceremony officiated by a close friend, Sondra Osterman. They have no children.
News of their separation comes a week after Shellie Zimmerman pleaded guilty to perjury – lying to help her husband get out of jail – at a court hearing in Sanford. Her plea deal calls for her to serve a year of probation. Notably absent at that 10-minute hearing was George Zimmerman.
That was a marked difference from what happened at Zimmerman’s murder trial in June and July. Shellie Zimmerman was listed as a witness and therefore was banned from the courtroom most days, but on the days she was permitted to attend, she sat behind him. At times, as they walked down the courthouse hallway, they held hands.
When the not guilty verdict was read July 13, 2013, she broke into tears and embraced her mother-in-law.
Shellie Zimmerman hinted about the breakup in interviews last week on ABC News and “Good Morning America.”
When asked about the future of their relationship and whether they were still together, she said, “I’m not going to answer that.”
“Of course, I want to have children and stay married…” Shellie Zimmerman said.
“With George?” freelance journalist Christi O’Connor asked.
“That’s something I’m going to have to think about,” Shellie Zimmerman responded.
She also revealed she wasn’t home the night her husband killed Trayvon. The Zimmermans had had an argument, she said, and she was staying with her father.
Before the shooting February 26, 2012, the Zimmermans were a working-class couple, struggling to pay the bills. She was studying to become a nurse. His job was to help assess the riskiness of mortgage applicants, but he was a community college student, studying to become a cop.
After the shooting, they quickly packed up their belongings and went into hiding, something that did not stop a series of death threats.
“We have been pretty much gypsies for the past year and a half,” she said. “We lived in a 20-foot trailer in the woods, scared every night that someone was going to find us and that it would be horrific.”
Trayvon’s death became a civil rights cause célèbre after Sanford police refused to arrest Zimmerman, saying they could not find enough evidence to disprove his self-defense claim. He was later charged by a special prosecutor with second-degree murder but was acquitted.
Division of marital property can be a difficult piece of the case. Throughout the case, this distribution is generally called equitable distribution. Unlike other states, Florida’s Courts require that all marital assets be divided equally. Although most would associate the word property with homes or land, all marital assets can be called into question and divided.
If you have questions regarding Florida divorce or alimony, contact Orlando Family Attorney Jeff Feulner of the Men’s Divorce Law Firm.