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When the Vows Break: Top Divorces (And Near Misses) of the Decade

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At the end of the year, or in this case the end of the decade, it's important to take a look back at the mile markers we've passed along the way.

For a divorce lawyer like me -- and a lot of you who follow celebrity love lives in the news -- it's been a decade filled with some rather dramatic divorces for the world's biggest stars.
A list of the top of the decade's biggest celebrity divorces is in order.:

Michael Jordan and Juanita Jordan: Of course, MJ tops the list. Air Jordan's bank account was deflated a bit when he divorced his wife of 17 years in 2006. Forbes ranked the NBA Legend's $168 million divorce settlement at the top of its list of the "The 10 Most Expensive Celebrity Divorces."

Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston: The Hollywood fairytale ended with "irreconcilable differences." They were married in a lavish $1 million wedding in June 2000 and the divorce was finalized on Oct. 2, 2005. While separated from Aniston, Pitt sparked a romance with Angelina Jolie that became fodder for gossip columns. Over the last five years, Aniston has reportedly carried a torch for Pitt, who remains in a relationship with Jolie.

Tiger Woods and Elin Nordegren: Tiger was, well, a cheater. When he got caught -- and word got out about the number of women he was having affairs with -- it shook up the golf world and made international news. Their divorce was settled in August. TMZ reported Woods agreed to pay Nordegren about $100 million in return for Nordegren agreeing to never talk about his affairs. She also received custody of the kids... and hasn't said a word.

Sir Paul McCartney and Heather Mills: The billionaire Beatle married the former model in June 2002 without first signing a prenuptial agreement. Their split in February 2008 cost McCartney about $47 million, not including lawyers' fees and child support payments. Divorce Lesson of the Decade: If you're rich, always get a prenup.

Sandra Bullock and Jesse James: Talk about the Oscar Curse. Shortly after America's sweetheart won the Academy Award for her role in The Blind Side, she found out her bad boy husband was... a really bad boy. James admitted to having an affair with tattoo model Michelle (Bombshell) McGee and Bullock left him. They married in July 2005 and the split was final in June this year. James made the understatement of the year: "I took a pretty amazing life and marriage... and threw it away."

Madonna and Guy Ritchie: In the end, the Material Girl was rumored to have forked over about $70 million in cash and property to settle her divorce from Ritchie, according to London's Daily Mail. That would be one of the biggest divorce settlements from a woman to her ex-husband. Ritchie, however, has said he didn't receive that cash. And since their divorce settlement remains private, it's impossible to know. Madonna, who was rumored to be having an affair with New York Yankee's star Alex Rodriguez, cited Ritchie's "unreasonable behavior" for the reason for their split.

Greg Norman and Laura Andrassy; Greg Norman and Chris Everett: Call it a double bogey in the marriage department: "The Shark" got divorced twice during the last 10 years. In May 2006, he divorced Laura Andrassy, his wife of 25 years. The price of freedom: $103 million, according to the Palm Beach Post. Two years later, Norman married former tennis star Chris Everett. Their marriage lasted until December 2009, when Norman again filed for divorce. Norman, however, took another mulligan in the marriage department in November, when he married interior decorator Kirsten Kutner.

Runners Up: Pop Star Brittney Spears and Kevin Federline; Actors Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidmann; Former Vice President Al Gore and Tipper Gore; Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani and Donna Hanover

Not every celebrity marriage that hits hard times ends in a split. There have been a host of celebrity relationship disasters that have avoided divorce court ... so far. Looking back at the last decade, it's important to remember that, too.

Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton:
Monica-gate -- Clinton's widely publicized fling with White House intern Monica Lewinsky -- ruled the headlines in the late 1990s while Clinton was in office. But there remained speculation into the '00s that Hillary Clinton would eventually kick Bill to the curb for his cheating ways. The former first couple, however, have stuck together.


David Letterman and Regina Lasko:
Letterman publicly apologized to his wife for having extramarital affairs with female members of his staff. Lasko was "horribly hurt by my behavior," Letterman said on the air. He vowed to repair his relationship with his wife. "Let me tell you folks, I got my work cut out for me," he said.

Elliott Spitzer and Silda Wall Spitzer: The former New York Governor was caught in a high priced prostitution scandal that resulted in his resignation. Spitzer's wife, though, stood by him through the ordeal.

Brett Favre and Deanna Favre: The future NFL Hall of Fame quarterback got caught taking a picture of himself with his pants down and sending it to another woman. The NFL is investigating, but his wife, a breast cancer survivor, has stood by him. "I'm a woman of faith," Deanna Favre told Good Morning America in October. "Faith has gotten me through many difficult struggles. It will get me through this one."