Terrence Howard in court trying to undo divorce agreement

Terrence Howard accepts the award for best actor at the BET Awards at the Microsoft Theater on Sunday, June 28, 2015, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)

Terrence Howard agreed to a 2012 divorce settlement with his ex-wife because he was afraid she would leak private details about his sex life, his attorney said during opening statements at a hearing involving the actor's efforts to overturn the agreement.

The Oscar-nominated actor and star of the hit television series "Empire" is expected to testify during the proceeding, which may take two days.

Howard and his attorney contend the 2012 agreement that dictated how his ex-wife would be paid was extorted by Ghent by threatening to leak embarrassing information.

Howard's attorney Brian Kramer said he would play an audio recording of Ghent making the threat and present other evidence that would show she engaged in "heavy-handed acts of extortion and blackmail."

Ghent's lawyers say she denied the allegations during a deposition.

Ghent has accused Howard of domestic violence and is also seeking money she says is owed under their divorce settlement.

Howard and Ghent were married in 2010 and she filed for divorce a year later.

The dispute has prompted 20th Century Fox, which produces "Empire," to seek guidance on where to send Howard's "Empire" earnings.

Judge Thomas Trent Lewis ruled Tuesday that Ghent's testimony will be limited because she did not file certain pleadings before the hearing.

The judge also said Howard could only present evidence of duress and extortion attempts that happened outside of the pair's mediation in 2012.

The agreement gave Ghent several bank accounts and left Howard with responsibility for several debts, including tax liens. The settlement also called for him to pay his wife a share of his earnings in spousal support.

Howard received an Oscar nomination for his starring role in 2005's "Hustle & Flow."
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