Money can’t buy you happiness — nor can it buy you a successful marriage. Celebrities have all the money in the world, it seems, and still can’t buy wedded bliss.
We know all about the mess that comes from filing divorce in Hollywood — from custody battles to prenups to fraud allegations. Yet we all seem to be glued to the magazine covers in the checkout aisle that provide the latest gossip.
In fact, Hollywood is pretty consistent with the 50 percent divorce rate trending in the United States. Of course their divorces are somewhat different than the average break-up.
Tiger Woods and Elin Nordegren made headlines in 2009, when news of the top-ranked golfer’s infidelities first broke. Nine months later, the couple divorced and Nordegren reportedly walked away with $110 million, custody of their two children and a gag order. She can’t write about, talk about or speak of Woods’ alleged affairs or their marriage, even after Woods dies. (Woods recently went public about his new girlfriend, Lindsey Vonn, who is pictured above.)
I’m not saying that celebrities shouldn’t divorce because marriage is hard, and many average Americans see their marriages end in divorce. What I am saying is that celebrities should be more careful, and perhaps take the time to plan more in advance. Nordegren was able to rework the prenuptial agreement she and Woods had because of the bizarre situation they found themselves in. Most aren’t that lucky.
Prenups and Pre-Planning
While no one goes into marriage thinking it is going to end in divorce, in the world of Hollywood you have to be realistic. Actress Roseanne Barr learned the hard way when, despite suggestions for her to have future husband Tom Arnold sign a prenuptial agreement, Barr chose not to. Arnold walked away from their marriage with $50 million.
When Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes announced their split, the prenup they signed saved Cruise from surrendering half of his fortune to Holmes. He must pay child support to her, $400,000 a year, but that’s a drop in the bucket to him, right?
Other celebrities who signed a prenup before their wedding include Tom Brady and Gisele Bündchen, Khloe Kardashian-Odom and Lamar Odom, Jessica Biel and Justin Timberlake, Nicole Kidman and Keith Urban, and of course, Beyonce and Jay-Z.
While the details of some of the prenups are a little ridiculous — Kardashian-Odom demands courtside tickets to Lakers games for an entire season should the two part ways — at least these couples have taken steps to protect themselves.
Separate Bank Accounts
Maybe the solution for this is to simply keep money separate. When Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston divorced, there wasn’t a huge money battle because the two had kept their earnings separate throughout their marriage. Aniston kept their $29 million mansion, and Pitt got to keep his major share in Plan B, their joint production company worth about $50 million. They didn’t have to split their combined income down the middle, and it was a clean break from a financial standpoint.
All bets are off when it comes to Angelina and Brad and their army of kids, though. Child support would go through the roof for Pitt — with or without a marriage certificate.
Many of the prenups listed above do have “cheating clauses” — if one spouse cheats, the payout to the other person increases, or a lump sum is given. Catherine Zeta-Jones will receive $5 million from Michael Douglas if he ever cheats, on top of the $2.8 million per year of marriage (currently 12).
When Reese Witherspoon and Ryan Phillippe split, Witherspoon was making significantly more money than Phillippe — about 10 times more, to be exact. However, since they hadn’t signed a prenup agreement, they had to split the money down the middle. Ouch.
Maybe celebrities will learn their lesson one day, whether it be to try premarital counseling, to sign a prenup or to work on marriage more before giving up. In the meantime, those million-dollar payouts sure can buy a girl a lot of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream. And that, regardless of marital status, is happiness.
Bill “No Pay” Fay has lived a meager financial existence his entire life. He started writing/bragging about it in 2012, helping birth Debt.org into existence as the site’s original “Frugal Man.” Prior to that, he spent more than 30 years covering the high finance world of college and professional sports for major publications, including the Associated Press, New York Times and Sports Illustrated. His interest in sports has waned some, but he is as passionate as ever about not reaching for his wallet. Bill can be reached at [email protected].