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Cher has recently filed suit against Mary Bono, the widow of Sonny Bono, alleging that Mary has been holding back on the royalties Cher is owed from Sonny & Cher songs of the 1960s. The lawsuit was filed in federal court, and claims that both Sonny and Cher had agreed to have an equal split of their royalties from those songs. Allegedly, that agreement was made in 1975, and finalized at the time their divorce was fully settled, in 1978.
The lawsuit goes on to allege that Mary has been working to undo the ownership that Cher has in regard to those rights, especially in recent years. Sonny and Cher married in 1964, and by the early 1970s they had become extremely successful, with a number of hits on the music charts. After they divorced, Cher was successful with a solo music career. Sonny got into politics, in the state of California. At the time of his death in a skiing accident in 1998, he was married to Mary.
Reports say that Mary and Cher got along well after Sonny’s passing, but now it’s apparent that friendship is over. Cher is suing for a minimum of $1 million in damages. She is also asking a judge to enforce the divorce agreement between her and Sonny from 1978, ensuring that she receives half of the royalties for the songs they recorded together.
How this lawsuit turns out remains to be seen. Provided that Sonny and Cher had the royalty provision in writing, as a part of their divorce settlement, it would seem that Cher has a case. However, proving that Mary has been withholding royalties may be difficult, depending on the specifics of the legal arrangement. The case is still pending, and will be decided by a judge.
Few estates have gained the notoriety of Sonny and Cher, but everybody needs a good estate plan. Contact The Estate Planning and Legacy Law Center to create an estate plan that meets your wishes and needs!