Life After Lockup star Michelle “Puppy” Deaton can finally celebrate the fact that her fiance, Eric, is a single man! Eric’s divorce from his wife Heather was finalized in Georgia court earlier today. But wait… hold on a second, Puppy. Eric’s attorney just filed a motion to set aside the divorce?!
I’ve been reporting on celebrity and reality star drama for more than 14 years and I can honestly say that I do not recall someone filing to have a divorce tossed after it was finalized! I’ve seen plenty of potential marriage annulments (including Puppy’s Life After Lockup co-star Chazz), but never a divorce annulment!
Why is Eric trying to have the divorce set aside? The answer is probably because Eric didn’t do so well in the finalized terms. Heather and Eric were given joint legal custody of their daughter, but Heather got primary physical custody. Eric was ordered to pay more than $800 a month in child support, starting this month.
Eric and Heather share a “marital home.” The judge ordered that Heather “shall take immediate and sole use and possession of the home and the items within.” She has been given six months to sell the house, and she will get 70 percent of the proceeds of the sale. Oh, and Heather also got custody of the couple’s dog, a male Papillon.
What Is Eric’s Argument For Tossing The Divorce?
The answer to this question is revealed in details that we have shared in our coverage of the divorce. We were the first to report that Heather’s divorce papers were officially filed in Georgia court on March 2 of this year. Heather used the Fulton County Sheriff’s Department and a private process server to try to serve Eric with the divorce papers, but all the attempts were unsuccessful.
Heather filed an Affidavit of Diligent Search on July 6. “I have clear evidence that shows Respondent [Eric] is actively avoiding service in order to delay the divorce process,” reads Heather’s claims in the affidavit. On the same day, Heather filed a Motion For Service By Publication. Service by publication would allow Heather to “serve” Eric by posting the divorce filing publicly — in this case in a local newspaper.
From the Motion For Service By Publication:
As outlined in the Affidavit Of Diligent Search, Petitioner [Heather] has been unable to make affect service upon Respondent. Efforts have been made to serve respondent by and through conducting a skip trace investigation, service attempts by both the sheriff’s office and a private process server. Petitioner has also attempted contact with Respondent through family and friends. All such attempts have been wholly unsuccessful.
In apparent contrast to the claims in the Motion For Service By Publication, Heather commented on our Instagram post about the divorce filing and revealed that she was in daily contact with Eric. “Make sure you get your facts right,” Heather wrote. “HE WONT SIGN PAPERS IVE FOUND HIM I SEE MORE THAN ID LIKE I TALK TO HIM DAILY HE DONT WANT TO DIVORCE ME.”
Heather later spoke with Mary from the Kiki and Kibbitz YouTube channel about the subject. “The statements about me not know[ing] where Eric was to serve him is ridiculous bc I talk to him every day,” Heather said. She added that she sees Eric “at least 3 times a week.”
Heather also claimed that Eric had an apartment with Puppy that was roughly 60 miles away.
As you may have guessed, Eric’s argument for having the divorce tossed is based on the the claim that Heather didn’t really make a valid attempt to serve him. The main part of the argument is based on the fact that every attempt to serve Eric was at an Atlanta apartment (I assume the one he had with Puppy?), when his residence was known to be the “marital home” reverenced in the divorce.
From Eric’s filing:
In fact, the Respondent [Eric] resides at **** ******** *****, Taylorsville, Georgia, and has resided there since prior to the commencement of this action. The Petitioner [Heather] knows that address to be the Respondent’s residence and has so known since prior to the commencement of this action. Before the commencement of and during the pendency of this action, the Petitioner visited the Respondent at this address on numerous occasions.
The Petitioner intentionally withheld the existence of this action from the Respondent so that he would be unable to defend himself. As recently as the day before the hearing, the Petitioner told the Respondent that she had dismissed her divorce case. She also did not inform the Respondent of the hearing scheduled for the following day. The Petitioner had no constructive or actual notice of this action or of the final hearing date.
Only after the Petitioner was awarded everything that she sought in this matter did she inform the Respondent of the existence of the matter, the hearing, and the judgment. As soon as he had notice of this action, the Respondent retained [an attorney] to represent him.
Eric’s attorney also filed an Answer And Counterclaim For Divorce earlier today in which he asks for primary physical custody of the couple’s daughter, child support, and payment of his legal fees.
I have no idea what to expect next, but I assume it will begin with the judge’s ruling on whether or not to set the divorce aside. We will, of course, continue to monitor the case.
If you’re curious about the pending meth possession charges against Heather and Eric, you can get caught up on those here.
#LifeAfterLockup We just shared our post looking into the criminal background of Amber's bf Sammy, and now we're moving on to Puppy's beau Eric! Including his 2018 drug bust…with his wife?!) #LoveAfterLockup https://t.co/9uMTnbCtUT
— Starcasm (@starcasm) October 15, 2021