Divorces among the common population usually have fairly simple finances. Couples with businesses are much trickier. Things change drastically as income levels rise. Among society’s elite: the upper class, celebrities, and pro athletes, divorce can be a costly affair. In many cases, divorce settlements among the top echelons of society can take years to determine and can mean millions in settlements.
Part of the reason it’s tricky is because it’s easy to hide assets when you have a lot of money. It can also be tricky to unravel just how much a particular asset costs. The upper classes often enter into prenuptial agreements for asset divisions, but when these are brought out many years later, the terms can be wholly inadequate. Combine this with the usual acrimony of a divorce and these cases can drag on for a very long time.
Here’s a look at some of the most expensive divorce settlements among the rich and famous.
Frank and Jamie McCourt – Settlement Amount $131 Million
Real estate mogul and former owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers Frank McCourt made most of his money in real estate development. When it was announced that he and his wife of 30 years were divorcing, McCourt fired his wife Jamie from her position of CEO of the Dodgers. As part of the divorce settlement, she relinquished her ownership stake in the team after receiving a $131-million-dollar settlement. After the settlement, the organization filed for bankruptcy and was sold to several investors for a record $2.15 billion, leading to an article in the Wall Street Journal asking if Jamie McCourt’s share of the divorce was baseball’s worst deal.
Michael and Juanita Jordan – Settlement Amount $168 Million
In their 2006 split after 17 years of marriage, pro-athlete and actor Michael Jordan and his wife, Juanita’s settlement included not only monetary assets, but a 7-acre Chicago estate and custody of the couple’s three children. In the end, Juanita received a settlement of $168 million.
Arnold Schwarzenegger and Maria Shriver – Settlement Amount $250-375 Million
In this highly publicized divorce, Maria Shriver filed for divorce after 25 years once it was revealed that Arnold had fathered a child with a member of the household staff. With no prenuptial agreement in place, California law required that Arnold hand over half of his wealth to Shriver. The final settlement was never made public, but estimates place Schwarzenegger’s wealth at $500-750 million, placing the settlement between $250 and $375 million.
Cases like these get headlines due to the amount of money and the fame of the people involved. But there are many not-so-famous rich people who still get caught up in settlements that take a really long time to resolve. One way that you can speed up the process before a divorce is to document the ownership and amount of assets between both partners before approaching a divorce lawyer. Yet this is sometimes easier said than done, especially if one partner isn’t involved in most of the business dealings.
If you or your partner have a lot of wealth and you are considering a divorce, speak with a skilled divorce attorney like Frances E. Gustavo about what you’ll need to do to prepare before you file divorce paperwork.