SAN DIEGO - June 13, 2012 - Every couple's divorce is unique, like a snowflake. But there are more things in common than there are differences. And just like the saying about men, boys, and their toys, the real difference between rich and the poor is the size of their divorce settlements.
We learned recently that basketball star Kobe Bryant and his wife Vanessa may be staying together, even though she filed for divorce in December 2011 after years of reports and his admissions about extramarital affairs. Might a cynical person believe that Kobe decided "it's cheaper to keep her"? The two got married without a pre-nuptial agreement, so she could walk away with $75 million and the couple's three California homes.
But even if it goes forward, the Bryant divorce isn't even in the major leagues when it comes to settlements among the rich and famous. Get ready for some eye-popping numbers. Here are the top ten richest Hollywood divorce payouts.
Actor Kevin Costner's divorce from wife Cindy Silver is estimated at $80 million.
Singer Madonna's divorce from British film director Guy Ritchie in 2008 after eight years of marriage and two children is believed to be between $76 million and $92 million. Apparently they really were living in a material world.
In another film director divorce, Steven Spielberg's divorce from actress Amy Irving after 34 months (months, that's less than three years) cost him $100 million. The pair married in 1985, broke up, but didn't divorce formally for several more years. Irving and Spieldberg have one son, Max.
Golfer Tiger Woods went into the bunker for $100 million after his divorce from Elin Nordegren.
Another golfer's divorce also cost him big. Greg Norman paid a settlement of $103 million to his ex-wife Laura Andrassy.
Actor Harrison Ford's divorce from actress Melissa Mathison was estimated to be $118 million.
Country singers Trisha Yearwood and Garth Brooks.
Country music star Garth Brooks is the number one best selling solo artist of all time for all popular music. Best selling equals lots of money, which equals a big split if you decide to get divorced. It doesn't help if you've been in the tabloid headlines alleged to be having an affair with another country music star.
Brooks and his wife Sandy were married for 14 years and divorced in 2001. But a year earlier, Sandy had asked her husband to choose between family life and music, and Garth Brooks spent that year at their home in Oklahoma trying to work things out. During the same year, country singer Trisha Yearwood got her second divorce, and rumors blamed an affair with Brooks.
Sandy received a settlement of $125 million from Brooks. They had three children ages four, six, and eight at the time.
After the divorce, Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood began dating. They were married in December 2005. It was his second marriage, her third.
Singer Neil Diamond claims he "willingly" gave his ex-wife Marcia Murphey $150 million after they got divorce.
Perhaps Kobe Bryant looked at what happened to basketball great Michael Jordan and decided to put the brakes on his divorce. Jordan's divorce from his wife Juanita was considered the most expensive celebrity divorce in history at the time, which was five years ago in 2007. Juanita Jordan sank a settlement in excess of $260 million. That will buy a whole lot of shoes.
Mel Gibson's divorce from wife Robyn holds the current record for payouts in a Hollywood divorce. Photo: Alta.
But it was eclipsed in December 2011 by the divorce of Mel Gibson from his wife of 29 years, Robyn. They had no prenuptial agreement. She was a dental assistant when she met the ambitious actor. They had seven children. Gibson went on to have a successful acting career, but where he made big money was as the producer of the movie The Passion of the Christ, over $600 million. Robyn walked away with half of his $850 million net worth... yes, that's $425 million. She also gets half of every residual check Gibson receives for the rest of her life for any movies or other projects he was involved in when they were married. It is the highest amount ever paid in a Hollywood divorce.
Here's a refreshing postscript: when former boy-band singer Nick Lachey and Jessica Simpson got divorced, Lachey declined to take even a dime from his soon-to-be-ex wife. Her net worth was estimated at $35 million at the time in 2005, far greater than his. He was entitled to a settlement and support under California law. But Lachey openly refused any payout, even when her father offered him $1.5 million.
Believe it or not, Hollywood divorce settlements are peanuts compared to Wall Street divorce payouts. In part two we'll talk serious numbers when it comes to divorce and big business.
Myra Chack Fleischer founded Fleischer & Ravreby in 2001 and serves as Lead Counsel with a focus on divorce, property, custody and support, settlement agreements, mediation, asset division and family law appeals. Read more Legally Speaking in the Communities at The Washington Times. Follow Fleischer & Ravreby on Facebook and on Twitter @ LawyerMyra