Much to our dismay, celebrity couples get divorced all the time. Just this year we bid adieu to heavy-hitters like Channing Tatum and Jenna Dewan, and Jennifer Aniston and Justin Theroux — and, sadly, at least a couple A-list pairs will likely be added to the roster before 2018 comes to a close.
Though the couple of millennium — Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie (aka Brangelina) — have been publicly separated since September 2016, their divorce is still making front-page headlines — and our Mr. and Mrs. Smith-obsessed hearts break a bit more every time we read one.
They say time heals all, but Brad and Angie’s divorce seems to get uglier and uglier as the months pass. Celebrity divorces are a big deal — but are they this big of a deal? Each new report seems to detail another jaw-dropping claim about one (or both) parties, but how much of this is actually pertinent to the case?
In order to separate fact from fiction and form a better understanding of the process behind celebrity divorces, we reached out to divorce attorney Raoul Felder of Felder, Felder & Nottes, who’s handled the divorces of several high-profile couples, including Elizabeth Taylor and Larry Fortensky, Mike Tyson and Robin Givens, and Liza Minelli and David Gest.
In Felder’s opinion, there are two things that separate most celebrity divorce cases from those of non-celebrities: 1) the number of zeros involved, and 2) a hypersensitivity to press.
“Very often it’s more important to appear right or appear generous or appear like a nice guy than it is to save some money,” Felder told InStyle, “So they’ll spend more money for these things.” That being said, he insists, "There’s no such thing as being a good guy in a matrimonial case."
With the amount of zeros tied up in their shared assets (in Pitt and Jolie’s case Felder believes it may come in at over nine — yes, nine — figures), a pre-nuptial agreement seems a no-brainer for a celebrity couple, but Felder says it’s less common than one might think.
“Every now and then you meet someone who doesn’t have a pre-nuptial agreement, thinks they’re above the law, ‘my wife would never do this to me…’” he explained. As for Brad and Angelina, he’d assume no such agreement exists. “I think that due to the pervasiveness of the media culture today, if they had one, it would’ve come out already, but I haven’t heard anything about it.”
This may also explain why their divorce has played out so extensively in the media. Felder told us that the divorces you hear little about aside from the initial announcement are typically those that were bound by a pre-nuptial agreement. “There’s a pre-nuptial agreement and that’s the end of it,” he said.
The press surrounding Pitt and Jolie’s divorce has mostly centered on the custody and child support of their six children (Pitt claims he loaned Jolie $8 million, in addition to $1.3 million for child support), but Felder thinks the legal argument is much more complex than that. “All states have some kind of formula for child support, with a ceiling — in this case it’ll be very low. So I think it may look [like it’s all about the children], but it’s not the case. They’re fighting about community property, because there’s the big bucks. And they may be fighting about some support, but it’s basically community property.”