Rumors have it that Jon and Kate Plus 8 stars Jon and Kate Gosselin have hired divorce lawyers. If so, theirs will be America's first reality divorce to go down while the show a show is airing. No doubt the saga will continue generating the TLC channel's biggest ratings ever. But as the producers' profits continue to roll in as this train wreck of a marriage breaks down, what's at stake for Jon and Kate? Already accused by family members of "exploiting their kids" for fame and fortune, the money is really going to the hit fan if they head to divorce court.
Previous reality TV couples like Nick and Jessica, Britney and Kevin Federline, and Hulk Hogan and Linda all had marriages that hit the skids after their shows left the airwaves. But Jon and Kate are famous for raising eight little ones while showcasing their deteriorating marriage on camera. The feuding couple has been raking in real dough from sponsors, gifts, perks and fees and expects to earn much more as their popularity continues to soar. So the question arises, if the couple splits, how do they split their future earnings in real time?
A family member claims the Gosselins are worth $10 million. Even if the true figure is a quarter of that, figuring out how to slice this family pie without the couple tearing each other to pieces will not be easy. The couple's TV contract reportedly pays out $75,000 an episode. As current cash cows for TLC , Jon and Kate should certainly expect their paychecks to inflate as additional seasons advance. Plus there's bound to be income from additional book deals, TV contracts, and paid endorsements down the road. It's going to take a team of contract and divorce lawyers to divide the marital assets as the family jackpot and fame grows by the minute. This is the type of settlement deal that could take months if not years to hammer out.
Then comes alimony. Could Kate owe Jon a monthly maintenance check? After all, Jon played housewife while Kate was the bigger breadwinner. Her $20,000 speaking engagements, plus income from her book and autograph sales, make her the wealthier spouse. If a judge wants to make sure that income and assets are divided evenly, there may be a court-ordered role reversal. Jon could end up a kept man as he cashes Kate's alimony checks.
Another cost of a reality divorce is astronomical legal fees. Litigation would put a serious dent in the couple's paychecks. The more complicated the marital assets, the wealthier the spouses, and the more ferocious their fight, the bigger the legal bills. These feuding TV stars are a lawyer's dream clients -- virtually guaranteed to wage an expensive divorce battle as the attorneys and forensic accountants sort through the marital assets and hatch a workable plan where both sides would be willing to sign off.
The Gosselins would actually stay richer if they stayed together. But with their hatred bared before the cameras and their legal maneuverings behind-the-scenes, it seems like it's too late to save Jon and Kate.