Celebrity divorce settlements are absorbing for many reasons. Beyond the gossip, it can be intriguing to consider, from a legal point of view, what issues may arise during the divorce when substantial income and assets are involved. Even though the divorcing couple may be quite wealthy, however, the division of assets for higher net-worth individuals and couples during divorce follows a similar process to that which anyone seeking a divorce would find. There are some additional issues, of course, such as the valuation of the assets and the determination of what earnings should be shared in the long term. Those extra steps can also add to the cost of the divorce itself.
The Los Angeles Lakers’ Kobe Bryant, one of the highest paid players in the NBA, has recently announced his divorce from Vanessa, Bryant’s wife of 10 years. Over the course of that marriage, it is estimated that the Bryants amassed a fortune of more than $150 million, and Kobe Bryant’s earnings in the years ahead are only expected to increase.
Kobe and his wife have reportedly reached a divorce settlement agreement, which means that they have been able to agree on all substantial issues and no trial will be required.
As you may know, many wealthy individuals obtain prenuptial agreements before they marry — or postnuptial agreements during their marriages — but the Bryants apparently did not have one in place. That means the division of assets during their divorce will be governed by California family law, which generally splits the couple’s marital assets 50-50.
In this case, it appears that each will indeed receive half of the couple’s community property — or $75 million. Although little is known about the details of their divorce settlement, it is also likely that Vanessa Bryant will receive an amount of spousal support (alimony) that can keep her in the lifestyle to which she is accustomed, along with child support due to their long marriage and two children. The couple is expected to share custody of the children.
Source: USA Today, “Experts say Kobe Bryan’s divorce could cost $75 million,” Tom Weir, Jan. 14, 2012