Real Housewives of Atlanta newcomer Kelli Ferrell will have no shortage of drama to bring to the upcoming season. The chef-turned-reality star is in the middle of a contentious divorce where her estranged husband Chuvalo Mark Ferrell recently served time behind bars for contempt of court, In Touch can exclusively reveal.

According to court documents obtained by In Touch, Kelli, who Bravo announced will join season 16 along with Brittany Eady and Angela Oakley, filed for divorce from Chuvalo in April 2022. Kelli is a chef who has been featured on the Food Network. She opened Nana’s Chicken-N-Waffles in Georgia during the marriage.

She listed the date of marriage as August 20, 2011, and the date of separation as January 2022. Kelli said the marriage was “irretrievably broken with no hope for reconciliation.”

The exes share three children: Chance, born 2012, and twins, Chasiti and Chelsi, born 2015. Kelli has an older daughter named Chloe from a previous relationship. Kelli asked the court to award her sole legal custody of the kids, child support, and attorney fees.

She listed the marital assets as worth $1.7 million. Her assets included the home she shared with her ex, the Chicken-N-Waffles restaurant, home furnishings ($350K), a Black Mercedes Benz G550 Wagon ($160k), 1950 Belaire Automobile($50k), a Nissan Cargo Van ($45k), a 2021 Mercedes Benz Metris Van ($45k), 2022 BMW 8-Series Alpina ($200k),1967 Ford Mustang ($65k), 2021 Cadillac Escalade SUV ($170k), several Rolex watches, a diamond necklace and t their wedding rings.

‘RHOA’ Newbie Kelli Ferrell in Middle of Nasty Divorce From Ex

In June 2022, Chuvalo responded to the divorce. He admitted the marriage was over with no hope for their issues being worked out.

In his response, Chuvalo disputed the date of separation listed by Kelli. He claimed they split in 2021 NOT 2022. Chuvalo demanded joint physical and legal custody of their children. He argued that “both parties are self-supporting, capable of being self-supporting” and neither should be awarded spousal support. During the case, Kelli filed a motion for a temporary restraining order prohibiting her ex from transferring or selling off any of their community property.

She claimed he had listed their home without informing her. In addition, she claimed to have learned he “expressed intention to secretly dispose of all the marital assets, obtain excessive loans from third parties in the name of Nana’s Chicken-N-Waffles Restaurant, and thereby abscond out of the State of Georgia with the proceeds and leave [Kelli] to deal with the debt obligations and servicing.” The court denied Kelli’s request for an order blocking the home sale. The judge said the buyer had already sold their existing home and was ready to move into the home.

The court did order the sale proceeds to be placed into an escrow account until the divorce was resolved. In court papers filed in 2022, Chuvalo accused Kelli of having abandoned their home in December 2021 “and has continued to dissipate the martial funds since she deserted the home.”

‘RHOA’ Newbie Kelli Ferrell in Middle of Bitter Divorce, Ex Thrown in Jail For Contempt

He accused her of transferring more than $100k from their business account to her personal account. He claimed her “frivolous spending, neglect, and disregard of the martial assets” caused him to incur significant expense. He claimed to have no access to their business account and “no ability to generate income due to” Kelli controlling the party’s restaurant. In court documents, he claimed she closed their original location and opened a new one without informing him. He accused her of violating the divorce order by making numerous decisions impacting the marital business without consulting him. She denied all allegations of wrongdoing.

Around the same time, Kelli sued her ex accusing him of fraud.

In her suit, filed by attorney Bobby C. Aniekwu, Kelli claimed Chuvalo made a series of unauthorized bank withdrawals from Nana’s business accounts into his personal accounts while she was on vacation. She said the withdrawals totaled $420k. She claimed he threatened to “destroy” her businesses because “he was no longer interested in being married to or in business with her.” Kelli accused her ex of sending emails to business associates that messed with big deals. At the time, Kelli said Chuvalo’s actions had caused her “financial stress.”

Regarding the claims of fraud, Chuvalo’s rep, Francis Perdue from Perdue Inc., said he, “categorically denies these claims. Mr. Ferrell has provided evidence showing that his actions were in the best interest of the business and his investments.” Further, “The accusation that Mr. Ferrell threatened to destroy Ms. Ferrell’s business and sent disruptive emails to business associates is contested. Mr. Ferrell asserts that his communications were intended to clarify his position and protect his interests, not to disrupt deals or cause financial distress.”

A hearing was held in June 2022 where the judge sided with Kelli and granted her sole ownership of Nana’s Chicken-N-Waffles. In addition, the court ordered Chuvalo to pay back the $420k and return the car.

Chuvalo admits the 2022 court order awarded the business to Kelli. However, his rep said he disputed the decision, “as it did not fully account for his co-ownership and contributions.”

They added, “Mr. Ferrell established the business in 2016, with other business partners signing key leases and documents. Records indicate that ownership was never solely held by Ms. Ferrell.”

Further, “The $420,000 in question is linked to a loan for the construction of another Nana’s Chicken and Waffles location. Mr. Ferrell used these funds to pay contractors and cover construction expenses. He provided Ms. Ferrell with $200,000 for payments, but she chose to default on these obligations. The loan company is aware of the situation, and Mr. Ferrell has receipts verifying the payments made.”

In October 2023, the exes reached a temporary parenting plan. They agreed Kelli would have primary physical custody and they would share joint legal custody. Around the same time, the court ruled Kelli’s ex would be $626 per month in child support. The amount was determined based on Chuvalo’s income of $3,500 per month.

Recently, Kelli filed a motion for contempt against Chuvalo for allegedly failing to follow the court’s order. The court found that Chuvalo intentionally refused and consistently failed to comply with the Final Court entered in 2022 that ordered him to pay the $420k and remove himself from the business accounts.

The judge determined he had failed to follow the provision to not interfere with Kelli’s business, failing to return the car, and continuing to apply for business loans and credit in the name of Kelli and the business. Further, the judge found Chuvalo had failed to make $8k in support payments.

‘RHOA’ Newbie Kelli Ferrell in Middle of Bitter Divorce, Ex Thrown in Jail For Contempt

The court found him in contempt and ordered he be taken into jail until he paid his ex the $420k, another $234k for “the improperly taken cars,” and the alleged unpaid child support. Jail records show he was booked into custody on January 12 and released on February 20. His bond was listed as $420k.

The court found Chuavlo did not cooperate with the sale of the home. Therefore, the property was transferred to Kelli in court. A rep for Chuvalo said while he was found in contempt, “he maintains that his actions were in pursuit of protecting his financial interests, and he complied with all reasonable legal demands related to the court order.”

Recently, Kelli went back to court demanding Chuvalo be thrown back behind bars over alleged unpaid child support.

Chauvlo’s rep continued In Touch, “Mr. Ferrell appreciates the interest in his ongoing personal matters, but he is committed to focusing on his family and professional responsibilities during this challenging time. It is important to note that the details surrounding his divorce from Kelli Potter-Ferrell are complex and sensitive. Mr. Ferrell has consistently sought to resolve these issues amicably and in the best interests of all parties involved, particularly their children.” He disputed Kelli was the true owner of the business.

The rep said, “Ms. Ferrell has publicly and falsely claimed ownership and credit for the creation and success of Nana’s Chicken-N-Waffles, despite not having any legitimate involvement in its establishment. These false claims have harmed Mr. Ferrell’s reputation and business interests.” Chuvalo said he takes issues with his ex involving their, “children in public appearances and on television without Mr. Ferrell’s consent, violating his parental rights and exposing the children to unwanted public scrutiny.”

The rep said, “children in public appearances and on television without Mr. Ferrell’s consent, violating his parental rights and exposing the children to unwanted public scrutiny.”

“Mr. Ferrell maintains that his priority is the reunification with his beloved children who he has been kept from wrongfully. In addition to focusing on his family he believes that the interests of the business and its employees must be protected and is confident that the legal process will clarify and resolve these matters fairly,” the rep added.

“As the divorce proceedings are still ongoing, Mr. Ferrell and his legal team are not at liberty to discuss specific allegations or developments in detail. They remain hopeful for a fair and just resolution in due course.”

The exes have yet to finalize a settlement on the division of their property and permanent support. The court docket shows a divorce hearing set for August.

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