Lisa Marie Presley’s divorce trial has started today, four years after she split from her fourth husband Michael Lockwood and just three weeks after the tragic death of her son Benjamin Keough.
The grieving mother – now 52 – showed up at the courthouse in downtown LA on Monday looking somber and wearing a black pantsuit, black mask and dark glasses.
Alongside her was a tall, burly bodyguard, also dressed in black, and her lawyer Gary Fishbein.
The trial, which is expected to last through the end of August, will finally end the couple’s 10-year marriage and decide who gets custody of their twin 11-year-old daughters Harper and Finley.
Lockwood, 59, argued last week in court papers that he should be awarded primary custody of his daughters because he feared Presley could relapse back into drugs and booze due to her grief over 27-year-old Benjamin’s suicide last month.
The musician was seen arriving at the Stanley Mosk courthouse in a blue suit, black pork-pie hat and also wearing a mask.
Before the start of Monday’s proceedings in front of LA Superior Court Judge Dianna Gould-Saltman, the press and public were ordered to leave, with the court clerk declaring: ‘This is a closed hearing.’
Hearings involving child custody are often sealed from public view.
Lisa Marie – Elvis’ only child – has admitted in the past to battling opioid and other painkiller addictions but claims to have been sober for the past three years.
Yet Lockwood – who also expressed concerns in court documents about guns at Presley’s $1.8 million home in Calabasas – alleged in legal documents that ‘heartbroken’ Presley’s anguish over Benjamin’s death could send her back to drugs and alcohol.
‘Lisa Marie Presley’s son shot and killed himself in her home (Although she was not there at the time),’ he said. ‘With all due sympathy and respect, this creates a new and unaddressed twofold problem: the safety of the children and the greater likelihood of [Presley] to relapse into drug and alcohol dependency,’ he wrote.
‘The children told (him) that (LMP) walked around the house with a gun in her hand in 2017. There was at least one gun on the premises of her home at the time of her son’s suicide and it is unclear where the gun was kept or whether Finley and/or Harper might have access to this gun or others.
‘Thus, there is a significantly higher risk to the safety of the children which would ordinarily justify 100 percent physical custody (to me) at this time in such circumstances.’
In addition, Lockwood said he’s worried his twins will be exposed to conversations about suicide.
‘There is a greater possibility that the children might think about suicide or attempt it, in light of their half brother’s suicide.
‘LMP has sobriety issues, has a problem with substance and alcohol abuse, kept at least one firearm in the house where her son had access and used it to kill himself, carried a handgun in front of the children during 2017 at home, and thus LMP is a far greater risk to the children’s safety than (me).
‘In light of such a tragic and devastating event, it would not be surprising for (LMP) to relapse into drug or alcohol use despite her alleged three years sober. The death of a child is among life’s most traumatic events.’
Lockwood said he does not know if Presley is currently sober and he asked the court to impose random drug tests on her – which he would also be willing to take himself.
Presley’s soon-to-be ex also claimed in legal documents that he is so broke – he makes only $1,000 a month and has ‘minus $371’ in his bank account – he cannot afford a lawyer, though he showed up with one, Joe Yanny.
Lockwood argued Presley should pay for his attorney under Californian ‘parity’ rules that say divorcing couples should have access to similar legal resources to ensure a fair contest.
‘Upon information and belief, Presley has an annual income well over one million dollars, while I currently have virtually no income whatsoever (I have some meager royalty payments that come in from time to time, but they do not total even one tenth or one twentieth of Petitioner’s income),’ he added.
Lockwood maintained in court filings that he owes more than $700,000 in legal fees that he chalked up in 2018 when he hired attorneys to fight a court battle in which he tried to persuade a judge to tear up a post-nuptial agreement – where he and Presley both signed away their rights to each other’s property and spousal support if they divorced.
At that time he asked the court to order Presley to pay him $263,000 a year in spousal support so he could ‘enjoy a lifestyle closer to my marital status of living’, which included lavish entertaining, expensive vacations and flying on private jets.
But Lockwood ended up losing the case and not getting a penny after Judge Gould-Saltman found his argument didn’t wash. Lockwood had claimed he hadn’t read the post-nup agreement and his attorney at the time failed to explain it to him.
The judge said: ‘If Respondent (Lockwood) elected not to read it (the post-nup) and accept the consequences that it would be upheld, that is his choice.’
Presley herself has also been pleading poverty, once claiming in court documents that she was as much as $16 million in debt.
Two years ago, she filed a separate lawsuit in Los Angeles against her former business manager, Barry J. Siegel, accusing him of frittering away her one-time $100 million trust fund from Elvis and charging her $700,000 a month while he was losing her fortune.
Siegel counter-sued, demanding $800,000 in fees he claimed he was owed and insisting that Presley ’squandered’ away her fortune because of her ‘uncontrollable spending habits.’ That case is ongoing.
Presley has been married four times and has four children. She married singer Danny Keough in 1988 and they shared Danielle Riley Keough – movie star Riley Keough – and Benjamin. They divorced in 1994.
That same year, she married Michael Jackson but they divorced two years later. Her third marriage, in 2002 to actor Nicolas Cage, barely lasted two years. She wed Michael Lockwood in 2006 and they separated and filed for divorce in 2016.
In February 2017, Presley took the couple’s then eight year-old twin daughters into protective custody and refused Lockwood’s claim for spousal support, claiming to have found images and videos of child pornography on his computer.
Lockwood denied the accusation and was never charged in connection to her claims.