When Noella Bergener signed up for Real Housewives of Orange County, she had no idea her short marriage was going to implode onscreen. Right before filming began, Noella found out about a massive tax debt her husband “Sweet James” Bergener had been hiding from her. Even though she was shocked and disgusted, she wanted to pay the debt and move on with her marriage. Sweet James had other plans. He cut off her credit cards and sent her surprise divorce papers written in Spanish. She had to have her nanny help her read them.
On episode 3 of Season 16, aptly titled “Gone Guy,” Noella first discussed the financial situation with Gina Kirschenheiter after a cryo session. She told Gina that she didn’t understand why he couldn’t just pay the tax debt and had even suggested that they sell one of their assets, a house in Puerto Rico, in order to make good on the $5.8 million debt. Noella says she just wanted to work things out, but he refused to sell this house and would fight her over it.
Noella later revealed that they had only had the house in Puerto Rico for seven months, and she was very confused about why James didn’t want to sell it. Noella was extremely upset, not so much about the debt, but about the breakdown in communication between herself and her husband because she considered him to be her best friend. She also says she had slept in their sex dungeon instead of their bed the night before because of the fighting.
In the next scene with Noella, she briefly discusses James’ tax problems with Nicole James, who relates with Noella by saying she’s going through a divorce. Noella is quick to say that “divorce isn’t even on the table.”
Unfortunately, it is soon on the table as she gets served divorce papers later in the episode. Noella dropped the news to Shannon Beador via Facetime. She told Shannon she had just been served divorce papers from Puerto Rico and that her nanny had translated them for her. For a while, all that was publically known was that Noella had filed for a legal separation, and then divorce, from James, but it looks like James had made the first move all along.
James left his clothes and everything behind and shut off the credit cards Noella had access to. She says she no longer had her own bank account with savings or any credit cards of her own to live off of. “He made an error, and he needs to repair it but I never thought that this would be the end of our marriage. I never thought that would mean that I’m a single mom with our son,” she says to Shannon while breaking down in tears. “I just want my husband back. I want him to come and tell me what the hell’s going on.”
“I’m lost,” Noella says in interview. “I’m completely lost. I don’t know what to do. I don’t know what to think. It’s a bad dream. It’s a really, really bad dream.”
She later told Shannon and Gina over dinner that they had received an “amazing” offer on the Puerto Rican house and she didn’t understand why he didn’t want to sell it to get rid of his tax debt and liens. They asked if he had any ties to Puerto Rico, but Noella says James was a former Mormon from Utah, so she didn’t understand the emotional attachment.
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