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When the Vows Break: Celebrity Divorce Lists Offer Opportunity to Learn From Marriage Mistakes

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Every year, the tabloids take a look back at the worst celebrity breakups, most bitter divorces and brutal court fights over cash.

Take it from a divorce attorney, the circumstances of celebrity splits are more than gossipy fodder for bloggers. These very public breakups offer important cautionary tales about modern marriage in America. Here's a few from last year:

Kim Kardashian and Kris Humphries:
The couple has been getting divorced longer than they were married (72 days) and there doesn't seem to be an end in sight. If you believe the gossip papers, Kardashian -- the reality star who's having a baby with Kanye West -- offered her NBA-playing soon-to-be ex-husband $10 million to settle the split. Humphries, who wants an annulment on the basis of fraud, allegedly declined the offer.
Lesson learned: In a short marriage, there's not much to argue over about except raw emotion.
The only thing Kardashian can win is her divorce. Humphries has dragged the case out and refused to settle. This is what happens when one partner is hurt. Just keeping an ex from getting on with his/her life can turn into a goal for the emotionally damaged. I see it a lot.

Katy Perry and Russell Brand:
Together, the pop star and the comedian were worth about $90 million. Perry, whose net worth is estimated at $70 million, was the big earner.
When they split, Perry signed the divorce papers with a smiley face. They wished each other well and didn't argue over money.
Lesson learned: If you keep your emotions in check, divorce doesn't have to be complicated just because there's a lot of money to fight about. Broken hearts are painful enough without adding to the mix expensive, drama-filled legal fights that drag on for years.

Katie Holmes and Tom Cruise:
Without getting into the reasons that Katie and Tom split. Let's get straight into how the divorce played out in the tabloids. Now, it might just be me but it looked like Tom and Katie both paraded their daughter, Suri, around town so paparazzi could see them being "good parents" to their daughter to sway public opinion. Even if I'm wrong about that, the images of Suri on celebrity magazines is an example something all couples with kids can learn from.
Lesson learned: Kids are not property to be divided 50/50. Protect them. And the best way to protect your kids is to insulate them from the divorce.
Most people are not followed around by paparazzi like Katie and Tom. But Facebook and Twitter does provide regular folks the opportunity regular people to be turn trips to the Zoo into mini "social media" events to show people how good of a parent they are just to tick off their ex.
First, don't do that. Divorce can be hard enough on a kid without having it broadcasted on the Internet.
It's just a reminder that the best way to be a good parent is by being a good parent when no one is looking.

Danny DeVito and Rhea Pearlman:
Married 30 years, the sit-com power couple best known for their iconic roles on Cheers seemed like the perfect couple. Then, out of nowhere, they separated.
Lesson learned: Being married for a long time isn't a guarantee you'll stay together forever.
I'm seeing more and more of those cases.
There are lots of reasons it happens. An increasing number of people split after the kids finish high school. Or later in life, a spouse comes up with a bucket list -- and one of the things they want to check off is, "Live single, again."
Rumor has it, DeVito and Pearlman might reconcile. That happens a lot, too.

Kobe and Vanessa Bryant:
The NBA superstar's sex scandal led to Vanessa filing for divorce. But before it was finalized, the two publicly reconciled -- tabloids reported Kobe may have negotiated to keep his wife around by giving his wife more financial leverage.
Lesson learned: An affair -- even a scandalous one played out in criminal court -- doesn't always end a marriage. Certain scandals happen as a lapse in judgment that get couples into counseling, talking about problems in their marriage, and when it's all said and done they're stronger than ever. Kobe and Vanessa's reconciliation might be the most public example of how married couples can somehow find ways to stick together through the worst of times when they want to.

Frank and Jamie McCourt:
The former Los Angeles Dodgers' owner and his ex-wife split in 2010. Jamie McCourt got $131 million of her ex's $300 million estate in the "final" settlement.
But last year, Frank McCourt found that Hall of Famer Yogi Berra might as well have been talking about divorce when he famously said, "It ain't over till it's over."
Jamie McCourt filed a post-decree lawsuit claiming her ex-husband vastly underestimated -- either through fraud or mistakes -- the value of his estate, which she claims is closer to $2 billion.
In America, there are more post-decree cases than divorce cases pending. And post-decree cases can get nasty because they are mostly about money.
Lesson learned: Avoid post-decree cases -- or it will cost you. A divorce case is sometimes easier to finalize because part of the impetus for settling the case is, well, you want to be DIVORCED.

But once that's no longer an issue, it becomes a court battle fought to the bitter end.
And like the McCourt case -- an argument over about $1 billion -- post-decree cases will cost you a bundle in legal fees.