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Celebrity Divorces: How Much Does it Cost to Call it Quits in Hollywood?

Even if you haven’t experienced divorce personally, you probably know that the process can be pretty expensive. The cost of a divorce depends on whether or not it is contested or uncontested, if you have children, and the level of agreement between you and your spouse. Divorces can reach into the ten-thousands if they’re contested, but if you’re one of Hollywood’s Elite, a million- or billion-dollar divorce isn’t out of the question.

So, how much are celebrities paying to get divorced? Why do their divorces cost more than a “regular” person’s divorce? Here are some heavily publicized celebrity divorces.

Harrison Ford and Melissa Mathison
Harrison Ford and screenwriter Melissa Mathison were married for nearly 20 years before their split in 2000 after rumors of an affair on Ford’s part. Melissa Mathison hired Dennis Wasser, a high-profile attorney who specializes in California Family Law and has represented other big Hollywood names, such as Tom Cruise. Founding member and CEO of Wasser, Cooperman & Mandles in California, he is one of the leading Family Law attorneys in the United States. His hourly rate is $950 an hour. Ford’s settlement to Mathison ended up somewhere around $90 million, and that’s not including attorney’s fees.

Adele and Simon Konecki
Adele and Simon Konecki started dating in 2011 and married secretly in 2016. After three years of marriage, Adele announced that she and Konecki were splitting in 2019. Because the couple did not sign a prenup and because Adele is worth nearly $182 million, Konecki may have received half of her fortune at around $90 million. A Los Angeles court granted Adele’s request to keep everything private, so the exact settlement is not available to the public. Adele used Suzanne Kingston, an attorney based in London, for her divorce. Unfortunately, her rate is unknown, but because she is experienced and deals with complex and high-profile cases, her fees could climb pretty high.

Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt
Hollywood’s arguably most famous couple, Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt, decided to get a divorce in 2016 citing irreconcilable differences. In Los Angeles, a retainer can reach a staggering $50,000, but it depends on which attorney you use. Angelina Jolie hired Laura Wasser, an LA-based attorney who specializes in California Family Law. Her hourly rate is $850 along with a retainer of $25,000. In addition to Judge Ouderkirk’s hourly rate of $450 per hour, Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt’s divorce could cost up to $500,000 a month. Because there are six children involved, the costs could climb even higher.

Jeff Bezos and MacKenzie Bezos
Jeff Bezos is the founder and CEO of Amazon and has a net worth of over $100 billion. He and MacKenzie Scott (formerly Bezos) married in 1993 before Amazon was founded in 1994 and divorced after 26 years of marriage in 2019. After a settlement of $38 billion, MacKenzie Scott became the fourth richest woman in the world. Jeff Bezos used Sherri Anderson, a Bellevue-based attorney, and MacKenzie used Ted Billbe, also based in Bellevue. Ted Billbe’s firm requires a retainer depending on the case between $3,500 and $10,000, but his hourly rate is not known. Sherri Anderson’s rate is also unknown, but it is probably similar to Billbe’s.

Although there isn’t a way to avoid attorney’s fees, how could have these celebrities avoided the massive settlements they ended up paying their ex-spouses? In some cases, like if there is no prenuptial agreement signed before marriage, there is no way to avoid it. However, in cases like Adele and Simon Konecki, a prenup could have helped Adele avoid giving away half of her $182 million fortune.

A prenuptial agreement is a private agreement signed by couples before marriage that dictates what will happen with their assets in the event of divorce. Often, when it comes to prenups, pre-marital assets and children are off limits.

A prenup covers:

  • Separate and marital property
  • Right to death benefits from life insurance policies
  • Debt
  • Property division in the event of divorce, death, or separation
  • Right to buy, sell, transfer, or manage property and assets during the marriage

A prenup does not cover:

  • Pre-marital debt
  • Child support
  • Day-to-day household issues
  • Child custody
  • Anything not permitted by law

Jeff Bezos and MacKenzie Scott’s marriage is an interesting situation. They were married in 1993 six months after meeting and before Amazon was founded in 1994. They divorced in 2019 after Amazon had grossed over $200 billion in revenue. MacKenzie Scott ended up receiving a settlement of $38 billion, landing her in the number four spot on Forbes Richest Women in the World 2020 list.

If they had signed a prenup could Scott’s spot on that list be different? Possibly, but it depends on what is in the agreement. There is no requirement that says one spouse must give another spouse a certain amount. A couple can agree together on what they want to do with their assets and how they want them to be divided in the event of a divorce.

Joining the list of celebrities who did not sign a prenup when they wed is Justin Bieber and Hailey Baldwin Bieber. Justin Bieber’s net worth is estimated to be around $265 million and Hailey’s at around $2 million. Because of the staggering difference in net worth, Hailey could receive a pretty hefty sum of money if they ever decide to get a divorce.

When is a Prenup Not Legally Binding?

In Georgia, there are certain requirements that must be met before a prenuptial agreement is legally binding.

  • Both spouses must be old enough to get married.
  • Both spouses must be mentally competent
  • Neither spouse can be married to another person at the time of their marriage
  • Spouses cannot be related to one another

Can a Court Refuse a Prenuptial Agreement?

In some cases, yes. If a spouse obtained the agreement through fraud, duress, or a mistake, if a spouse misrepresented or left out required information, if a spouse is forced to sign an agreement, among other reasons, the court can refuse to enforce the agreement.

Although divorce isn’t something couples want to think about before getting married, a prenuptial agreement is a way to protect both individuals involved from having to hand over assets or a dollar amount they weren’t expecting. A prenuptial agreement is a tool for the future, not a guarantee that you’ll get a divorce.

About Brown & Dutton Law Firm:

The attorneys at Brown & Dutton would be honored to stand by your side during this difficult time. JenniLance, and Tracy are experienced, transparent, and compassionate Georgia family lawyers that have been practicing attorneys for a combined 32 years. Contact us today to schedule a consultation and begin planning for your future.