Nicole Richie clad in white. Joel Madden in his best suit. Courthouse. Marriage.
All were in play today in downtown L.A., but it’s not exactly what you think.
Richie appeared Monday afternoon in court, where she was granted a permanent protective order against a couple of shutterbugs she had accused of harassing her.
Richie, dressed in a sheer white blouse with her hair pulled tightly back in a bun, showed up with Madden, dressed in a black suit, and gave testimony of a car accident she blamed on the the paparazzi.
But the news that caused the most buzz was her lawyer’s pronouncement of them as husband and wife.
Attorney Mark Geragos repeatedly referred to Madden as “your husband” during questioning of Richie.
And that was news to us.
While Richie and Madden have been together for three years and have two young children, they have not, as far as we know, tied the knot.
There is also no marriage license on file in L.A. County for the duo as of last week.
Afterward, Geragos explained himself. He exclusively told E! News that Richie and Madden have a “common-law” marriage. Richie and Madden, who were standing next to Geragos, didn’t say otherwise.
However, a source close to the couple insisted to E! News that Geragos just misspoke and they aren’t hitched in any sense of the word. (Besides, says family attorney Neal Hersh, the state of California doesn’t recognize common-law marriage.)
As for today’s hearing, Richie faced off with the two photogs, Eduardo Arrivabene and Ivon Emilio Melo Miguel, who she claims hounded her into a car accident last month.
Before Richie took the stand, Geragos prefaced her testimony by telling the court, “She’s not feeling well. She’s been diagnosed by a doctor.”
Richie, who was suffering from the flu last week and ended up missing the launch of her House of Harlow line at Bebe, coughed the entire time as her lawyers offered her water.
During her testimony, Richie detailed the events leading up to the car accident.
“A few of the paparazzi had become more aggressive…trying to get in front of me, trying to get beside me, ran a red light,” said Richie. “I was hysterically crying.”
Richie told the court, “They’re always following me. I’ve seen them inside my property once.”
Madden also took the stand saying, “She’s with the kids 24-7, and she takes them to work. She’s constantly terrified.”
Before making a decision, Judge Carol Goodson said, “The court is extremely concerned about the possibility of a future accident,” then added, “but you’re asking me to weigh the pros and cons of celebrity…They do have a right to earn a living…[Richie] does not have a right to pick and choose her photographers.”
The photogs, who were also present in court, apologized to Richie and “promised” to leave her alone. Miguel claimed he’s never been on Richie’s property.
The protective order extends to Richie and her two children, Harlow and Sparrow, and will expire Nov. 16, 2012. The paps must stay at least 50 feet away from the family and their vehicle.