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Ben Zobrist's divorce trial begins. Here's what's at issue for the former Chicago Cub.

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Ben Zobrist

Ben Zobrist after scoring a run in 2016. Almost two years after he played his final major-league baseball game, Ben Zobrist is in the process of divorcing his wife, Julianna. Zobrist also is suing his family's former pastor for $6 million.

At long last, the divorce case of Ben and Julianna Zobrist is heading to trial.

Starting Monday in a Tennessee courtroom, attorneys for the couple are to state their cases for how the Zobrists' marital estate is to be divided.

Eureka native Ben Zobrist first filed divorce papers in 2019, during the last of his 14 seasons as a major-league baseball player. He missed two-thirds of his 2019 Chicago Cubs season in an attempt to repair his marriage.

Instead, Judge Michael Binkley is to preside over a divorce trial in Williamson County, Tenn., where the Zobrists have resided. Ben Zobrist accused Julianna Zobrist of having an illicit affair with their pastor, among other things.

Julianna Zobrist doesn't appear to be contesting that aspect of the case.

"Husband should be granted a divorce on the ground of adultery," stated a pre-trial memorandum her attorneys filed.

The trial without a jury is scheduled to continue through Aug. 17.

Julianna and Ben Zobrist

Julianna Zobrist greets her husband Ben Zobrist after she sang the National Anthem on Memorial Day at Wrigley Field on May 30, 2016.

Here's a look at what's at issue in the case and what people are saying about it.

Ben Zobrist is seeking 60% of the marital-estate assets, which are estimated between about $24 million and $31 million, according to court documents.

The extra cut was requested because of a lack of income from Julianna Zobrist, according to her husband. She is a contemporary-Christian singer, self-help author and social-media personality.

Ben Zobrist also claimed his wife incurred at least $700,000 in wasteful and excessive spending in 2019 and part of 2020. Much of it went to travel, clothing, gifts and rent for a luxury penthouse apartment in Nashville, according to Ben Zobrist's pre-trial memo.

Net proceeds from the sale of the Zobrists' residence in Chicago went to Julianna Zobrist, the memo stated. The house sold for about $1.8 million. It was located near Wrigley Field, where Ben Zobrist played home games from 2016 through 2019.

Julianna Zobrist, who with her husband has three children, is seeking an even split of the assets. She also wants an additional $4 million.

The request for extra money is because Ben Zobrist forfeited about $8 million in salary from the Cubs during his 2019 absence from the team, according to court documents.

"A spouse's failure to preserve significant assets may justify a trial court's unequal division of the marital estate favorable to the other spouse," Julianna Zobrist's pre-trial memo stated. "Thus, the court should consider the Husband's actions as a failure to preserve the marital assets when making its' determination of division of assets between the parties."

Ben Zobrist's attorneys called those claims "utterly absurd." They said it was impossible for Zobrist to devote all his energies to baseball, considering the state of his marriage.

Concerns about COVID-19 caused trials to be delayed in Nashville, which is in a county adjacent to Williamson. Ben Zobrist's attorneys suggested the pandemic isn't the only reason for this trial's delay.

"As the Court is aware, this case has gone on for two years, in large part due to Wife's concealment of the physical nature of her affair, and her half-hearted attempt at reconciliation to get her Husband to go back and earn additional monies for the marital estate," court documents stated.

Ben Zobrist has stated he was not aware until June 2020 that his wife and their pastor, Byron Yawn, were having a sexual relationship, not strictly an emotional one.

In a separate legal action in Nashville, Ben Zobrist has sued Yawn for $6 million in damages. Zobrist also accused Yawn of defrauding the baseball player's charity.

The divorce trial might include testimony from Yawn, who was subpoenaed last year in that case.

In a post made last month on Instagram, Julianna Zobrist issued her only public statement about her situation.

"It's tempting to retaliate or seek revenge when someone decides to hurt, slander or lie about you. Especially in public," she wrote, in part. "It's difficult to remember that those who harm us are acting out of their own pain. Wounded people need healing, and that's what I pray finds every person who is so lost in their pain that they resort to inflicting harm on others."

The post couldn't be found in an Instagram search recently. But anti-Julianna posts on Twitter were plentiful.

Such was the trend on a thread that followed this post from Barstool Chicago.

Other tweets called for Julianna Zobrist's music to be removed from the Spotify audio-streaming service.

The 15th anniversary of Ben Zobrist's big-league debut came about one week before the start of the divorce trial.

On Aug. 1, 2006, Zobrist went 0-for-4 in the Tampa Bay Devil Rays' 10-4 loss to the Detroit Tigers. Zobrist hit.304 in 18 games for Durham, Tampa Bay's Triple-A minor-league affiliate, after the Rays acquired him in July 2006 a trade with the Houston Astros.

Thus began a career that saw Zobrist play in 1,651 regular-season major-league games, hit 167 home runs, drive in 768 runs and achieve an overall batting average of .266.

Zobrist also played in 64 postseason games. He was part of World Series-winning teams in 2015 for Kansas City and in 2016 for the Cubs. That year, he was World Series MVP.

His extra-inning RBI double against the Cleveland Indians in Game 7 of the '16 Fall Classic gave the Cubs a lasting lead.


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