Mary Anne Shula Sues for Her Dead Ex-Husband's Alimony Millions

Are the Shulas broke? Or is football demigod Don's wife just a cheapskate?

First, the wife of Dolphins Hall of Famer Don Shula made a bizarre plea of poverty at a council meeting in ultra-exclusive Indian Creek Village, in protest of a new tax assessment that will cost the Shulas a few thousand dollars a year: "My husband is 80 years old... He's on the back nine of his life. Don is unable to do talks and signings like he used to. If our taxes go up, he'll suffer... What gives you the right to do this?"

FYI: The Shulas live in a 13,300-square-foot house worth $4.14 million.

Now, 64-year-old Mary Anne Shula is suing her former stepson in Arkansas in a battle over one of the cushiest alimony deals we've ever heard of.

In 1991, when the woman born Mary Anne Hurst divorced Little Rock investment bank CEO Jackson T. "Jackson" Stephens Sr., worth $380 million at the time, the settlement deal gave her the home on Indian Creek Island and $1 million a year for the rest of her life.

But Mary Anne Shula, who made Don her fourth husband two years afterward, has been battling Jackson's son Warren Stephens in court since the banking magnate died in 2005. The dispute stems from Warren attempting to "distribute some jewelry and paintings from his father's estate," according to Arkansas Business, and Mary Anne's fear that "the assets of the estate would be drained."

She has taken the fight to a probate court in Arkansas. She has already lost in federal court, where the case was dismissed and she was ordered to pay $160,000 in attorney's fees. The federal judge decided she had no grounds for legal action because Stephens has never skipped a check: "[Shula] admits that she continues to receive her quarterly alimony payments of $250,000 and she does not believe that Warren A. Stephens is having any type of financial trouble. She fears he may have future financial trouble."

Well, since she's been spreading that news everywhere, we're inclined to believe her. But between all the Shulas' millions and Don's NFL pension -- not to mention earnings from Shula's Steakhouse and that sweet, sweet Nutrisystem cash -- where has the money gone?

Somewhere in his Indian Creek mansion, Don Shula takes another nibble from a ginger snap, sadly shakes his head, and falls asleep on the couch.

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Gus Garcia-Roberts