Hulk Hogan and Linda Hogan settle contentious divorce case

CLEARWATER —The steel cage death match between Hulk and Linda Hogan has come to an end, though it's not clear who won.

Attorneys for the couple, whose real names are Terry and Linda Bollea, announced at the beginning of a scheduled court hearing Tuesday morning that the two sides had reached a settlement in their divorce.

The two have barely traded glances, let alone words, with each other during 20 months of bitter divorce hearings. On Tuesday, however, they were all smiles and kisses.

Moments before the agreement was announced, Linda walked into the courtroom and kissed her ex on his cheek while wishing him a "good morning." Then she did the same to Hulk's girlfriend, Jennifer McDaniel, 34.

As Hulk, 55, signed paperwork making the deal official, Linda and McDaniel chatted amicably in the front row.

After the announcement, Linda said: "It's good for our family. It's good for our kids. It's great being on speaking terms with my husband — with my ex-husband.

"The war is over."

Hulk said, "I think it's a great day for everybody. We can finally function as a family."

Standing next to McDaniel, Hulk said he's now "a free man," with "my new life right beside me."

Linda's attorney Ray Rafool said the agreement was reached Monday night after lengthy negotiations.

"It was a full counsel press," Rafool told Circuit Judge George Greer.

The terms of the agreement, approved by both parties, will remain confidential, said David Houston, one of Hulk's attorneys.

Throughout the contentious proceedings, the Hogans have traded accusations of hidden assets, fought over the extent of Hulk's financial responsibility and grappled over Linda allowing her boyfriend to drive the couple's vehicles.

She accused him of infidelity during their marriage and harassment after their separation. He groused about her spending habits and caught flak when he told a magazine reporter that he understood the frustrations O.J. Simpson felt.

The Hogans said their children, Brooke and Nick, were pleased with the settlement. Both said they planned to do things as a family again.

"I still love him," said Linda, 49. "He's the father of my children."

Linda said she plans on keeping her married name and may move to California. Her 20-year-old boyfriend, Charlie Hill, whom Brooke once called "the epitome of losers," was not at the proceeding.

The settlement came after a particularly nasty hearing in June on Hulk's motion to reduce the $40,000 a month he was paying in alimony. At that hearing, Linda's former hairdresser accused her of hiding money from her husband and using it to buy prescription pills.

Rafool called that testimony "a complete fabrication."

Also during that hearing, attorneys for Hulk produced a witness who testified he saw Linda snorting cocaine on the couple's boat and a personal shopper who said Linda spent thousands of dollars on clothes for Hill.

When a scheduled hearing was canceled last week, rumors began to swirl that the Hogans had reached a settlement.

"It's been in the works for a while," Rafool said Tuesday.

The final order that will be filed with the court states that both parties agree to the terms, but does not disclose how the couple handled their marital assets and liabilities. Original court filings sought an equitable split

In 2008 court filings, the couple's net worth was listed between $26 million and $32 million. They own a nearly 17,000-square-foot mansion on Willadel Drive in Belleair, valued on property tax rolls at $6.4 million, and a 3,474-square-foot Clearwater Beach house valued at $1.4 million.

Financial affidavits filed in 2008 listed bank and brokerage accounts totaling $12.9 million, and a host of vehicles, including two powerboats, four Yamaha scooters, four Harley-Davidson motorcycles, five water scooters and 14 cars and trucks, including a Rolls-Royce.

Hulk Hogan, who became a household name in the 1980s as a professional wrestler, married Linda in 1983. Together, they raised Brooke, 21, now a recording artist in Miami, and Nick, who lives in Los Angeles and turned 19 on Monday.

The family became reality television stars with their VH1 show, Hogan Knows Best, which first aired in 2005. The couple's marital strife began to play out in public in a July 2007 episode, titled "Wedlock Headlock," in which they attended marriage counseling together and seemed ready to reconcile their differences by show's end.

But in November 2007, Linda filed a divorce petition stating the marriage was "irretrievably broken." The filing came just three months after Nick was involved in an accident in Clearwater that critically injured his friend and passenger, John Graziano. Nick served five months in jail on a felony reckless driving charge for his role in the Aug. 26, 2007, crash. Graziano remains hospitalized in Tampa.

The family still faces a multimillion-dollar civil suit filed on behalf of Graziano. Hulk Hogan declined Tuesday to comment on how, or if, the divorce settlement will affect that case.

At the end of Tuesday's hearing, Hulk complimented his ex-wife, calling her a "great" person and said that the two, after more than 20 years of marriage, "just got torn apart."

After nearly two years of turmoil for the family, it was time to move forward, he said.

"Cooler heads prevailed."

Hulk and Linda Hogan kiss while Hulk Hogan’s girlfriend, Jennifer McDaniel, looks on Tuesday before the Hogans’ divorce settlement was announced. It marked an amicable end to what had been a contentious 20-month-long battle.

SCOTT KEELER | Times

Hulk and Linda Hogan kiss while Hulk Hogan’s girlfriend, Jennifer McDaniel, looks on Tuesday before the Hogans’ divorce settlement was announced. It marked an amicable end to what had been a contentious 20-month-long battle.

Hulk Hogan and Linda Hogan settle contentious divorce case 07/28/09 [Last modified: Saturday, August 1, 2009 10:59am]

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