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Judges rule against Terrence Howard on divorce appeal

LOS ANGELES -- A California appeals court on Wednesday reinstated Terrence Howard's divorce judgment involving his second wife after finding the actor was not coerced into signing it.

The ruling could allow Michelle Ghent to claim some of Howard's lucrative earnings from the hit Fox television series "Empire."

The 2012 divorce agreement called for Howard to pay Ghent monthly support of $5,800 and as much as $4 million a year, depending on his earnings, including potential income from his role as Lucious Lyon on the Fox series "Empire," which had not yet premiered.

The three-justice panel of the 2nd District Court of Appeal in Los Angeles ruled unanimously to reinstate the judgment, which had been was tossed out by a lower court in 2015.

The earlier ruling found that the "Empire" star was under duress when he agreed to pay Ghent generous spousal support because he feared she would leak embarrassing information about him. Howard claimed Ghent made the threat in a 2011 phone call. A year later, the couple agreed to a divorce settlement that paid her significant spousal support.

Wednesday's ruling says the passage of time negates Howard's claim that he was forced to sign the agreement. The ruling also noted Howard's repeated attempts to reconcile with his ex-wife as showing he was not coerced into the agreement.

The ruling also calls for Howard to pay the costs of the appeal filed by his ex-wife.

A phone message left for Howard's attorney Thomas Dunlap was not immediately returned.

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