With all these celebrity splits, I'm wondering: When a star like Courteney Cox divorces a nobody, is their ex automatically set for life?
—CarLuv, via the inbox
Now, now. Let's not talk like that, lest we make Kevin Federline cry. Then again, we'd have to assume that Kevin Federline is able to read the previous sentence. Forget I said anything.
Here's what we know:
California law says that anything earned by either party during a marriage belongs equally to both spouses in the event of a divorce.
But that right can, and usually is, signed away by the poorer party via the celebrated celebrity prenup.
Unless Aguilera or Cox had some supremely terrible advisers at the time of their weddings—not likely, even a little bit—both of these couples probably have some brilliantly crafted prenups.
And those agreements probably shield Cox from losing half her earnings at the hands of the star of Eight Legged Freaks.
(For the record, it's not clear what either of these prenups might say, or whether each couple for sure has one, but come on. Aguilera alone is worth a reported $60 million. Cox? An apparent $75 million, thanks to that cutesy sitcom she did in the '90s.)
What do those prenups likely say?
Well, I am told, they probably provide some sort of cash payout or monthly paycheck for the less wealthy ex—a fair amount if not half. Think 20 percent, maybe 30, maybe a lump sum with some wiggle room for a cost-of-living increase.
Says family law attorney Robert Brandt, "It's extremely unlikely that either prenup calls for the less famous spouse to walk away with nothing. If that were the case, the prenup could get thrown out in the courts for being unfair or unconscionable when it comes time to enforce it."
In other words, says prenup-lawyer-to-the-stars Fred Silberberg of Silberberg & Ross, "I don't think anyone will be walking away poor."
Silberburg recently crafted a prenup for a celebrity who shall go nameless here. In that agreement, one celebrity agrees to set aside a payment to the spouse of $150,000 for every year they're married. The money belongs to the spouse regardless of divorce, but in the event of a split, the spouse does not get any additional support. That may be one way that Aguilera or Cox has things set up, as well.
Does that mean that Arquette—whose biggest payday seems to be his $5 million gig in Freaks—can sit back and do nothing? Probably not.
Not, at least, if we wants to keep living in the same style as he did when he was with gazillionaire Cox; $150,000 doesn't even come close to meeting those monthly bills if you're used to spending like a Friends star.
You can bet that you'll be seeing Arquette again—that is, if he can get a gig.