When there are millions of dollars at stake in the breakup of a marriage, a fight for that money can get pretty fierce – and the details of the divorce can be entertaining for those on the outside looking in. Although the very wealthy must follow the same divorce rules and laws as everyone else, the numbers involved are much bigger and the lawyers sometimes end up earning millions too.
Prenups – To Have or Have Not
Even with so much money at stake, some millionaires marry without entering into a prenuptial agreement. In some cases, they may not have been worth much when they tied the knot. In others, they’d already amassed fortunes only to lose chunks of it. Media tycoon Rupert Murdoch’s ex Anna Maria Torv, came away with $1.7 billion when they divorced in 1999 after 32 years of marriage. This apparently didn’t give Murdoch a case of cold feet – he married 17 days after his divorce from Anna Maria was final. Former General Electric CEO Jack Welch had a prenup, but it only addressed what would happen if he and his wife divorced in their first 10 years of marriage. The marriage lasted 13 years and Jane Welch collected approximately $180 million.
Even when prenups are in place, it doesn’t stop spouses from going to war to have them set aside. Amy Irving did this successfully when she divorced Stephen Spielberg — she walked away from their marriage with $100 million.
Funding Those Lavish Lifestyles
Many divorcing spouses squabble over just how much money is necessary to run a household post-divorce, but millionaire divorcees have alleged some exorbitant expenses. Anne Dias Griffin claimed she needed $14,000 a month for groceries when she parted ways with billionaire hedge fund manager Kenneth Griffin and another $2,000 a month for stationery — apparently, she’s not a big believer in email. She also needed $300,000 a month to keep a private jet airborne. When Jamie and Frank McCourt broke up – co-owners of the Los Angeles Dodgers, at least according to Jamie’s divorce papers – she stated that she needed a minimum of $989,000 a month to make ends meet.
Children With Very Silver Spoons
Child support laws in most states are set up so kids maintain a comparable standard of living post-divorce to what they would have enjoyed if their parents had stayed together. The McCourts have four sons and Jamie wanted Frank to continue to pay for the offspring’s tuition and living expenses after the divorce. It sounds reasonable, but all four young men were legally adults at the time. Then there are the miserly parents. Business buyout mogul Ron Perelman insisted that one of his ex-wives — Patricia Duff — could feed their daughter on $3 a day, despite the fact that he was worth an estimated $11 billion in 2010.
Funding Those Divorce Battles
So what’s a divorcing spouse to do when so much money is at stake but she doesn’t have access to the purse strings? According to the Boston Business Journal, at least one company, BBL Churchill Divorce Finance, fronts soon-to-be-rich divorcing spouses enough money to continue to live comfortably and pay their lawyers as well until their divorces are final. They can pay the loans back – plus interest, of course – when the ink dries on their decrees.