10 Greatest Prenups in History


Photo: kevindooley

Prenuptials are big business, and if you’re wealthy and in love there’s a risk you could lose a lot of money by glossing over this vital document. Take celebrities Kelsey Grammar, for example: the Frasier actor didn’t sign one when he married his wife Camille Donatacci and she is now in line to receive $30 million of his $84 million fortune. Almost all of the most expensive break-ups are down to not having a prenup: Heather Mills and Paul McCartney, Mel and Robyn Gibson, Roseanne Barr and Tom Arnold, you name it. But sometimes, even when the world’s richest people have thought ahead, the amount of cash involved in the split can still be phenomenal. Here’s our list of some of the biggest prenuptial settlements that have happened or could happen.

10. Beyonce and Jay-Z ($25 million or more)

Photo: Cornel Pex

There’s no telling how big the prenup is going to be until a divorce is actually finalized and an agreement has been set, but if this one did happen, it could be huge. Hip hop mogul Jay-Z and his new wife Beyonce have reportedly signed a prenup that promises her at least $10 million if the marriage fails within 2 years, plus an extra $1 million for every year they stay together thereafter. In addition, if the R&B singer has any of his children she will receive $5 million extra for every one. Beyonce is already worth $100 million herself, but according to the National Enquirer she could be entitled to $25 million if they split, and that’s not counting the children. 38-year-old Jay-Z’s net worth is estimated at $300 million.

9. Donald and Ivana Trump ($34 million)

Photo: Robert delGrosso

Apprentice star and business tycoon Donald Trump is one man who knows the value of getting a watertight prenup. His first wife, Ivana, challenged the legality of their pre-marital document in 1991 and walked away with far more than she would have had it held up in court. According to reports, his former wife was given $20 million in cash, the $14 million family home and $350,000 a year in alimony.

8. Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones ($40 million just for cheating)

Photo: jayhawk6

A prenuptial agreement can be about anything, not just how to divide marital assets. It’s reported that the Douglas-Zeta Jones document has a paragraph about how much money Catherine stands to receive if her husband Michael is caught cheating. Plus, she’s entitled to £2.8 million for every year they’re married. The movie legend’s previous marriage to Diandra Douglas cost him $45 million when it ended in 2000 after 23 years, so maybe he’s trying to pin down every eventuality were he to go through another break-up.

7. Madonna and Guy Ritchie ($76 million)

photo: sheksays

When both parties are considered well-off it’s easy to wonder why they would bother to write a prenup document. But then there’s well-off and there’s being as rich as Madonna. Even though her new husband was an established and profitable film director when they tied the knot, nothing compared to the material girl’s wealth. After 8 years of marriage, and even though there was a prenup in place, Guy Ritchie still came away from their partnership with a reported $76 million.

6. Steven Spielberg and Amy Irving ($100 million)

photo: Vicky

Amy Irving was an aspiring actress when she met the established director Steven Spielberg in 1984, so when they married each party signed a prenup. Four years later and Spielberg left his wife for another actress, Kate Capshaw. The scorned wife managed to get the couple’s original prenup thrown out of court – which wasn’t difficult as it was written on the back of a cocktail napkin, apparently. She was eventually awarded $100 million, which was half of his net wealth at the time. An expensive but utterly useless prenup, unless you want to mop up spillages that is.

5. Tiger Woods and Elin Nordegren ($110 million)

Photo: Keith Allison

Mr and Mrs Woods ended their 7 year marriage in October 2010 after his string of affairs became public knowledge. The pair were going to make a go of it and rewrote the initial prenup; and to say sorry for his indiscretions Tiger had offered his humiliated wife a $5 million apology. But eventually Elin Nordegren filed for divorce. Under the newly written document the golfer had to pay out an even bigger amount. She walked away with a reported $110 million rather than the initial $20 million she would have received had they been married for 10 years.

4. Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes ($125 million)

Photo: Waponi

A prenup can actually pay out during a marriage. Katie Holmes earns money for every year she stays with Tom Cruise and collects the $3 million annually. But the best part for Mrs Cruise? If they’re together for over 11 years the agreement is abolished and she is entitled to half of the mega-rich Hollywood star’s fortune. Reports say that’s roughly $250 million.

3. Jack Welch and Jane Beasley Welch ($150 million)

Photo: Rain Rannu

This is a prenup that went wrong. When Jane Beasley married wealthy CEO Jack Welch they signed a pre-marriage document that had a “sunset clause” in it. It meant that if the marriage lasted more then 10 years the prenup was null and void. That happened in 1999, and by 2002 Jane Beasley Welch was fighting for half of her ex-billionaire husband’s wealth. She eventually received $150 million from the former General Electric head.

2. Michael and Juanita Jordan ($168 million)

photo: cliff1066

Basketball legend Michael Jordan and his wife Juanita split up in 2006 after 17 years of marriage. They had signed a prenuptial agreement which said Juanita would be entitled to half her husband’s fortune, but when it came to splitting up the marital money she only took a third. Still, that third was $168 million.

1. Robert and Sheila Johnson ($400 million)

Photo: David Shankbone

Robert Johnson, the co-founder of BET and America’s first African-American billionaire, paid out a massive $400 million to his wife of 30 years when their marriage ended in 2002. The prenup held up in court and Sheila was awarded half of their joint assets, making it one of the biggest divorce settlements in history (even with a prenup!). Both have continued their business dealings, owning majority stakes in professional men’s and women’s basketball teams. Three years later and Sheila married William Newman Jr. who was the judge presiding over her original divorce case.

10 Most Bizarre Custody Cases Involving Pets


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Divorce or separation can be an extraordinarily stressful experience – especially for couples with dependents. However, increasingly, those dependents include not only the kids but the family pets as well. It might seem odd but many Americans care for their furry friends as they would for their own children, so when love turns sour the tug of war extends not just to the Ford but also to the family pooches. Indeed, when everything is at stake, the custody of pets can turn agreements into acrimony. There’s even a book on the subject: We Can’t Stay Together for the Dogs. Here are 10 of the most bizarre custody cases fought over family pets.

10. Tequila the Parrot


Image: Joao Maximo

Tequila the African gray parrot was lucky enough to be a much loved bird – so much so that Tequila’s second owner named him Lucky. However, Tequila was originally owned by Angela Colicheski of Boca Raton, FL; the bird managed to escape, and was eventually taken in by Sarita Lytell. By chance, 3 years later, Colicheski and Lytell met at a Dunkin’ Donuts, and got to talking about their shared love of parrots, before realizing that they had at different times actually owned the same bird. At this point Colicheski asked Lytell to return him and when she refused, Colicheski sued. Lucky no more, Tequila was returned to Colicheski three months later and Lytell’s claim for the cost of keeping the bird was dismissed.

9. ‘Pepperoni’ the Border Collie


Image: =Tom=

Custody battles aren’t always fought between husband and wife; sometimes the pooch’s godparents get involved as well. British lawyer Sandra Toye told The Independent about a case where a breeder had given ‘Pepperoni’, a border collie, to a friend, with no money or paperwork changing hands. When the friend split from her husband the breeder snatched ‘Pepperoni’ back, claiming that the dog was her property. More than 11 months and £20,000 ($30,000) later, the breeder gave in and returned the hound. The client commented: “I know it was financially dumb but my mindset all along was, ‘We’re not going to let them win’.”

8. Poppy the Staffordshire Bull Terrier


Image: Sannse

Take reality TV stars and add litigation and pets and you have the perfect recipe for a media circus. Brits Melanie Hill, of the first series of Big Brother in the UK, and Alex Sibley, who appeared in the third series, fell out big time over their pet Staffordshire bull terrier, Poppy – to the tune of a 13-month battle, costing £25,000 ($40,000). When the pair split at the end of a 2-year relationship, Melanie kept the pup, bought for £70 ($100) from Battersea Dogs Home, while Alex was arrested for harassment (for which he was later cleared). A judge eventually awarded the pair shared custody and called for Melanie to pay 80% of Alex’s costs as well as her own – while warning that the dog might be affected by the tension. Alex told the BBC: “She is a dog in a million… She is absolutely the best dog in the world.”

7. Lucy the Lamb


Image: Tambako the Jaguar

Not all custody battles are fought over pampered hounds; one Bethan Parkinson actually fought for, and eventually lost, custody of a sheep. Bethan bought Lucy the lamb as a pet for her daughter while living in Buckley, in the UK. However, she soon found that with four dogs, three cats and two ponies she had no room for Lucy, so she asked the manager of an animal rescue center if they could care for the animal. Five months later, having moved to North Wales, Bethan attempted to get the sheep back. The rescue center refused, so Bethan called the police. When four officers arrived she displayed a receipt for the sheep, for £30 ($45), and Lucy was returned. The rescue center then took legal action and won – saying Bethan had changed her mind after leaving Lucy with them.

6. Bailey the Staffordshire-Labrador cross


Image: sam i am

When British model Orla O’Rourke split from her boyfriend, male model Tim, he decided that their dog, Bailey, was his. Following an amicable private settlement, Orla took to making a two hour round trip from central London to Romford, Essex once a fortnight – an arrangement that lasted for more than 4 years. However, this wasn’t the first time that Orla had made the effort to keep in touch with separated pets. After breaking up with a boyfriend in the US, Orla flew transatlantic once every six weeks in order to spend a full week with the dogs the couple had shared. The ex would apparently sometimes try to stop her from seeing the dogs – so she waited until he was out and crept through the dog door. “There’s always a lot of strife around it,” she told the Daily Mail. “You see the worst of some people. It’s so easy to use the dog against your partner.”

5. Zena the Poodle


Image: tanakawho

When Zena the poodle’s owners John and Lisa Roberts parted ways they couldn’t decide who would claim the then 5-year-old dog. After a one hour hearing, John was given Zena on weekdays and Lisa given her on weekends. Adding hyperbole to the proceedings, John’s attorney Joe Duncan commented: “It’s like what a Solomon decision might do. The parties just felt so strongly about this issue that it was very difficult for them to give in, and that’s what judges are for.” Fortunately no one suggested cutting Zena in half – though we hope neither party would have accepted the offer.

4. Gigi the Pointer-Greyhound cross


Image: Philandthehounds

By now you might have got the message that when people fight over pets, they fight hard. When Dr Stanley Perkins parted ways with his wife Linda in 2000 they set a precedent for determination. In all the couple were reported to have spent $150,000 fighting over their pointer-greyhound cross-breed, Gigi, which they had adopted from an animal shelter. During a three day hearing, reports by animal behaviorists, bonding studies and a video on Gigi’s routine were all scrutinized. Linda even presented a birthday card from Gigi recognizing her as the dog’s ‘mommy’. She ultimately won custody.

3. Jakob the Horse


Image: Bjørn Bulthuis

When parish councilor Anthony Ewen took Jakob the horse from his field, in the UK, it started a very peculiar chain of events. Anthony claimed that the horse, which had been bought while he was married to his ex-wife Chrissie McBurnie, would be happier and safer in another field, with other animals. The following night Chrissie and her friend Tracey Young held a silent protest at a parish council meeting with a poster of the horse. The police were called and four officers removed the pair from the meeting. Chrissie, who claims Anthony does not know the horse’s name, as he calls him Thunder, said: “He is doing this to hurt me. Jakob has hardly any cash value – you can buy ponies at auction for £50 ($75) these days. He might be worth £300 ($450) to the meat man but that is it.” It was alleged that she punched Anthony in the face two days later.

2. Trouble the Maltese


Image: *Ann Gordon

When ‘Queen of Mean’ Leona Helmsley died she left the largest bequest in her will, of $12m, to her Maltese, Trouble. A year later the dog’s trust fund was slashed to a mere $2m, with an annual expenditure of $100,000 to cover security, $8,000 on grooming and $1,200 for food. Carl Lekic, the general manager of the Helmsley Sandcastle Hotel, serves as a guardian for the spoiled pooch, on a salary of $60,000 a year. Mr Lekic might just be one rather lucky custodian.

1. Rocky the Golden Labrador


Image: www.charlietphoto.com

When New York businessman Marsh Newmark’s wife, opera singer Darynn Zimmer, left with the dog, things did not go well. Initially the couple shared Rocky the golden labrador, but, according to the New York Daily News, one day Darynn had a dog walker announce that Rocky would not be being returned and then accused Marsh of abusing the dog. The golden lab got a clean bill of health from a vet, but Darynn then announced she was moving to Connecticut. Distraught, Marsh asked a friend to apprehend Rocky while he was being walked. The friend was tackled by a doorman and the police were called, while the boyfriend reportedly shouted: “He’s stealing my dog!” It was then that the couple took Rocky to court – and after a $60,000 custody battle, Darynn retained custody.

Images used are for illustration only.

10 Celebrities You Didn’t Know Were Adopted


Image: Acaben

Giving up your child for adoption can be a difficult decision to make, but it happens more often than you might think. For some it has taken decades to discover the shocking truth that the people who raised them are not their biological parents – and for one reason or another that their biological parents felt they could not raise them. Here are 10 celebrities who you might never have guessed were adopted – and who haven’t been held back by adoption. Read more

10 Celebrities Who Divorced Their Parents

While we might all have spent some time in our childhood wondering if we could be legally separated from our parents, it’s actually a pretty unusual thing to do – and with good reason. If a petition of emancipation is approved, the child takes on adult responsibilities in the eyes of the law (though that doesn’t mean they can drink or drive) and they must prove that they can support themselves. Yet whether it’s to take on adult responsibilities or to part from an unstable home, it’s a drastic decision to make. However, more celebrities than you might think have been granted ‘divorces’ from their parents when there are child and parenting issues affecting primarily the child. Here are 10 famous kids who divorced their parents:

10. Juliette Lewis

Wild child Juliette Lewis was emancipated from her parents at the age of 14, before moving in with family friend Karen Black and then into her own apartment. She then bought a car without a valid license, dropped out of high school and got into drugs. Then she appeared in The Wonder Years. She also dated Michael Dewitt, who worked as a nanny for Kurt Cobain … and Courtney Love.

9. Drew Barrymore

Another wild one, Drew was smoking at the age of 9, drinking at 11 and taking cocaine at 13. A regular at Studio 54, she was in rehab at 13 and attempted suicide when she was 14. Then she moved in with singer David Crosby, sobered up and a year later filed for emancipation – and has never relapsed since.

8. Courtney Love

Courtney Michelle Harrison certainly had a complicated upbringing, shooting from a hippie commune in Oregon to New Zealand and from boarding school to reform school. Following childhood highlights such as unsuccessfully shoplifting a Kiss t-shirt and applying for the Mickey Mouse Club with a reading of a Sylvia Plath poem, Love applied for and was granted emancipation from her mother, who was living on the other side of the world, at the age of 16. She went on to travel around the US, England and Ireland, living on a trust fund set up by her mother’s adoptive parents.

7. Frances Bean Cobain

However, that was only the beginning of the Courtney Love story. In 1992 she had a child with her husband Kurt Cobain of Nirvana, who, in 1994, killed himself. Some years later, at the age of 17, Frances Bean was put into the custody of her maternal grandmother and her father’s sister. A restraining order was then put on Love forbidding her from any contact with her daughter.

6. Eliza Dushku

Dushku came from a happy home, completed high school and went to university. Why did the Albanian-Danish Mormon divorce her parents then? As a 17-year-old she filed for a petition to get around child labor restrictions, allowing her to spend more time on set filming for her role as Faith in Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

5. Bijou Phillips

At 15, Bijou Phillips left a home, where her father (John Phillips of The Mamas & Papas) and her sister were allegedly both taking cocaine, to live alone in a Fifth Avenue apartment with her own maid, while working as a model. Two years later, after becoming distraught over the heroin overdose death of her friend, 20-year-old socialite Davide Sorrenti, she went into rehab.

4. Aaron Carter

At the age of 16, Carter filed for emancipation from his mother, alleging she had taken $100,000 from his bank account without his permission. “I feel betrayed by my own mother,” he said, according to the Hollywood Reporter. He later withdrew the petition and the pair reconciled.

3. Dominique Moceanu

Only 14 years old, Dominique Moceanu was the youngest member of the US women’s gymnastics team in the 1996 Atlanta Olympics. Three years later she sued her parents to find out what had happened to her money. The following month, her former coach skipped town after reports that Moceanu’s father, Dumitru, had hired a hit man to kill him. Dumitru later denied the allegations, but took the Fifth. Despite being emancipated, Dominique eventually reconciled with her parents.

2. Jaime Pressly

Jaime Pressly was another teen with a strong work ethic – she was granted emancipation at the age of 15 so she could take a semester out of school and accept a modeling job in Japan. Due to child labor laws she was required to travel with a legal guardian, but neither of her parents could attend, so adult status was essential. Coincidentally, however, her parents, who had been married for 21 years, were divorcing at the time – but as she says, “It wasn’t a Macaulay Culkin kind of thing…”

1. Macaulay Culkin

Beginning in Macaulay’s 14th year, his parents, who had never married, separated and began to fight over their (very successful) children – and $17m of little Mac’s money. His mother, Patricia Brentrup, subsequently won custody, and at 16 he took his parents to court to gain control of his earnings, eventually paying off Patricia’s legal debts and parting ways with his father. He would later divorce his wife of 2 years in 2000, at the age of 19.

Divorce Documents

When filing for divorce in New Jersey, certain documents must be filed. First, a “complaint for divorce” is filed, which gives basic information about the marriage, including where it was held, if there are any children to be considered, and the grounds for divorce. Along with the complaint for divorce, a “confidential litigation information sheet” must also be filed. This sheet contains detailed information about each spouse, including their social security number, overall health, place and date of birth, and the names and ages of all the children. Each spouse, after submitting all necessary information and documents must sign a “CDR” certification, which just notes for the court that each party has been made aware of the lower-cost, alternative dispute resolution.

Response documents are also among the first filed by the defendant. An “appearance” is filed once the defendant receives the complaint, an “answer,” either confirms or denies the grounds for divorce, and the optional “counterclaim,” allows the defendant to file based on other grounds not originally mentioned by the plaintiff (this isn’t always necessary, but your attorney will be able to answer any questions you may have about the process).

All documents filed will become a matter of public record after the divorce process begins…many parents keep this in mind when describing how they feel about their spouse, and the reasons for the divorce. Children will be able to access the information years from now.

Discovery Process

After initial documents are filed, the divorce will be given a case number, and each spouse’s attorney will be given a specific amount of time to conduct what the court calls the “discovery” period. Every divorce is different, and depending on whether a custody hearing will be held, the discovery period could be longer or shorter.

The New Jersey courts try their best to keep divorces from lasting much over a year’s time. However, when there is much to dispute or a lot of discovery is necessary (if there was a business shared, or if there are many assets or debts to be divided, for example), it is not uncommon for a divorce to last longer than a year. Which is why its best to be as cooperative as possible; its in everyone’s best interest to have the proceedings not last longer than they need to.

A “case information statement” is provided by each spouse, which details the status of his or her financials. The household budget, projected financial needs of dependents, bank account information, property values, income (current and projected), and all bills and debts (totaled), will be have to be given over to your attorneys. This information will help determine income needed to cover both spouses’ projected expenses, and help determine if there will be a shortage once “real income” is applied.

There are cases when a party isn’t totally aware of the financial details of their household because their spouse typically handled all the financial decisions. In this scenario discovery tools are used to make sure both parties have all the information necessary.

If your divorce requires more discovery than is typical, you may choose to have your spouse or other individuals deposed (give their sworn statement) as to the status of financials. There are also divorces where discovery ventures beyond the case information document, and property appraisals, evaluations by psychologists, etc must be acquired.

Equitable Distribution

As with other steps in the divorce process, how the marital assets will be divided cannot be decided until all financial information is gathered and all questions answered. Information about income (current and potential), tax returns, current values of the property, needs of the care-giving parent to maintain the primary marital home, etc, must all be shared with the courts.

Equitable distribution also involves discussing the financial contributions of each spouse throughout the course of their marriage. How much each spouse contributed to the other’s education, or even what career sacrifices—which led to earning sacrifices—were made by one spouse for the other, or at least as a result of the other spouse’s career/education (for example, if one spouse stayed home with the children, thereby not pursuing career advancement, so the other spouse could attend school or work more hours)… all are taken into account.

Early Settlement Panel

After the discovery period is completed, you have the opportunity to go before the “early settlement panel.” This panel is made up of three extremely experienced marital attorneys who will hear both parties’ positions and advise each spouse’s attorney based on, in their opinion, what they think a judge’s ruling will be on the case.

Before appearing before the panel, you and your spouse exchange settlement proposals which give both parties and their attorneys an idea of their spouse’s suggestions on how to resolve issues surrounding child custody, dividing of the assets, etc. There should be no surprises at the early settlement panel hearing; both attorneys present their client’s settlement proposals and then the panel gives their opinion—which is non-binding, but highly recommended.

If you and your spouse can come to an agreement at the early settlement panel you can be divorced that very day, saving time, money, and more emotional strain. If you decide not take the panel’s advice and settle that day, while the process could go on for several more months, you will at least have a better idea of where you and your spouse stand on the important issues, and how much more negotiating you will have to undergo. Communication is always a good thing.

Who Pays for College?

When two people divorce, it is not just two people ending their marriage, especially if children are involved. Changing a family dynamic is tricky and emotionally trying; it’s just complicated. Bottom line. Many decisions have to be made when one of the providing members of the family is moving out of the home, and thereby shifting financial responsibilities. Questions like: how are the bills going to get paid, who is going to do the holiday shopping, and of course, one of the hardest and most stressful —who is going to pay for college—have to be answered, in order to avoid a painful or complicated situation for the child/family later on.

The law takes certain things into account when it comes time to make legal decisions about the families’ finances and about which responsibilities will be assigned to which parents. Who pays for college, or how much each parent will be expected to contribute to the child’s education, is decided by a number of factors, including: what each parent is actually capable of contributing financially, if the child will be working during college and contributing to their own expenses, whether financial aid will be an option, and whether a college education is something that is even feasible for the child, or something they are interested in.

Having a fractured relationship with your children is not usually considered by a judge when financial decisions are being made. Making sure a child is cared for should not depend on how you, the parent, is feeling about the situation. The child, their needs, and their goals are what matter most.

During Custody Battles–“Kids Count”

Divorce is hard on everyone, especially if children are involved. Custody battles make it difficult for children to deal with the divorce of their parents in a healthy way; they see their parents angry, fighting, they are being asked hard questions, and in uncomfortable, unfamiliar, and unfriendly courtroom environments. Attorneys are bound to look after the best interests of their clients through the divorce and the related legal proceedings, but who looks out for the needs and feelings of the children involved?

Custody battles can get messy and involve child therapists, lengthy meetings and discussions in chambers with judges, and possible leaving the child to feel responsible for legal outcomes and  decisions. Parents care deeply about their child’s feelings and emotional health; divorce takes its toll, taking over and making you unable to think past your own pain and emotional strain. It doesn’t mean someone is a bad person; its means they’re human.

“Kids Count” is a program designed to give children going through a divorce and possible custody battle, an outlet for their unfamiliar and difficult feelings, other children going through something similar to talk to, and parents the opportunity to see how their marital issues are actually affecting their children.

The program puts children in contact with trained professionals that can help them with emotional strains, and help the parents look beyond the issues they have with one another, in order to decide what is truly best for the child. Most parents, after being educated through the “Kids Count” program, decide not to proceed with the custody proceedings and settle the matter out of court…like a family.