Sandra Bullock, the Oscar-winning actress who often stakes out Austin as her hometown, has filed for divorce from TV personality Jesse James in Travis County.
News of the divorce filing, first reported Wednesday by People magazine and TMZ.com, set off a media frenzy at Heman Sweatt Travis County Courthouse downtown, with various reporters for national publications seeking the documents.
The petition for divorce, entered April 23 and identified by TMZ as having scrambled initials for the two parties, was not unexpected. In early March, soon after Bullock, 45, won the Academy Award for best actress for "The Blind Side," at least four women came forward saying they had affairs with James, the founder of West Coast Choppers, a custom motorcycle shop in California that was featured on the Discovery Channel's "Monster Garage."
The surprise, however, is the existence of an adoption in process, first reported by People. Bullock and James, 41, had planned to adopt Louis, a 3-month-old from New Orleans. Bullock now plans to complete the adoption as a single parent, according to People.
"He's just perfect, I can't even describe him any other way," Bullock told People. "It's like he's always been a part of our lives."
In the petition, Bullock does not contest custody of James' three children by previous marriages.
Bullock and James were married in 2005, but, according to the petition, "have ceased to live together as husband and wife." The document, filed by Bullock's Houston-based lawyer, Walter Becker, also states that the marriage "has become insupportable because of discord or conflict of personalities that destroys the legitimate ends of the marriage relationship and prevents any reasonable expectations of reconciliation."
No protective order has been filed, and the division of property, according to the petition, will focus on community ownership.
Bullock, who holds property in several states and is perhaps Hollywood's most bankable female star, owns several Austin businesses, including Bess Bistro on Pecan and Walton's Fancy and Staple on West Sixth Street. The petition says she has lived in Texas for at least the previous six months and has been a resident of Travis County for at least 90 days. During much of that time, Bullock remained behind the walls of her California residence, dodging a battery of paparazzi.
Adding a twist, TMZ said divorce was filed under the initials "B.A.S.," with the respondent listed as "J.J.G." Messages left with Becker, Bullock's attorney, were not returned.
Several legal experts told various publications and TV shows Wednesday that Bullock might have filed for divorce in Texas because it will be easier away from the glare of Hollywood. They also pointed out that James won't be entitled to spousal support in a Texas divorce, since a couple in Texas must have been married at least 10 years for a spouse to qualify for such aid.
At the Travis courthouse, a steady stream of local media, bicycle couriers and other workers hired by national media turned out to retrieve copies of the divorce documents. One bicycle courier said he was at the courthouse when the doors opened at 7:30 a.m. to get the papers for TMZ. Another person said they were looking for the papers on behalf of the E! Network.
If the divorce is not amicable, any Austin trial could turn into an international media circus.
Austin readers expressed support for Bullock on the austin360.com website:
"Come and live here full time and raise your baby here. Forget the Californians. We'll see you at The Salt Lick!"
Additional material from staff writer Claudia Grisales.