Statistics show that about 40% to 50% of marriages end in divorce. Although if you are a regular reader of celebrity gossip columns, you could be forgiven for thinking that even that figure seems a little low. Hardly a day goes by without some celebrity couple announcing their separation or impending divorce. As a matter of fact, divorce in Hollywood is big business.
Anybody who has gone through a divorce will know that deciding on appropriate alimony payments, including the costs associated with raising any children from the marriage, can cause a lot of stress and a lot of disagreement between the two parties. It’s bad enough when the people involved earn $50,000 per year, but when the husband–or indeed the wife–is a millionaire actor, singer, or even politician, then the alimony payments start to take on a life of their own.
The huge alimony payments that some divorced celebrities have been forced to pay have led to an increase in the number of prenuptial agreements–or prenups for short–although there are still plenty of famous couples who believe in true love and who have refused to sign such agreements, such as Ellen Degeneres and her wife, Portia de Rossi. It remains to be seen whether this was a good idea for them or not!
So, for those who have unfortunately been faced with alimony issues, who are paying the most? Let’s see the top 15.
15 Mel B - 1.6 Million
Mel B may have been known as “Scary Spice” when she was a member of the Spice Girls, but she was the one getting the scare when it came to her divorce from backup dancer Jimmy Gulzar. Despite being married for just 16 months before their separation, Mel was ordered by the court to pay Jimmy a settlement worth about $1.6 million, including a cash payment and a property worth almost $1 million. By the time Mel B divorced her second husband, Stephen Balefonte, in 2017, her net worth had doubled, and she was forced to offer husband number 2 a settlement worth a reported $6.5 million. “Marry in haste, repent at the bank” would seem to be Mel B’s unfortunate motto when it comes to marital bliss.
14 Mel Gibson - $425 million
Another Mel who didn’t have much luck in the divorce courts was actor Mel Gibson. The Braveheart star divorced his wife of 31 years, Robyn Moore, in 2011 and was ordered by the judge to pay her a staggering $425 million, which was half of his own net worth. There were also reports that Moore, who met Gibson in their native Australia before the actor had made his name, would even be entitled to a share of his future earnings. Around the same time, Gibson was also ordered to pay $750,000 to his young girlfriend, Oksana Grigorieva, in maintenance payments for their daughter after their split.
13 Neil Diamond - $150 Million
Singer Neil Diamond enjoyed 26 years of wedded bliss with wife number two, Marcia Murphey, before the couple split in 1996. Murphey, who had married the “Sweet Caroline” singer in 1969 when she was working as a television producer, walked away from the divorce with a reported $150 million, after numerous rumors about her husband’s fidelity, or rather his lack of it. Diamond himself poured scorn on the scale of those figures a few years later when he was marrying wife number three, 41-year-old Katie McNeil, in April 2012, but the true amount of Mrs. Diamond’s alimony payment has never been revealed.
12 Paul McCartney - $38.5 million
As one of the musical geniuses behind the success of The Beatles, Paul McCartney had a lot to lose in the event that his second marriage to the much-younger Heather Mills ever got into difficulties. Despite this, Paul refused to sign a prenup with the former model, and when the couple eventually split after six years of marriage–amid accusations of drug use and rumors that she didn’t get on with Sir Paul’s children from his previous marriage to Linda–Mrs. Mills-McCartney walked away with a cool $38.5 million plus $70,000 per year for their daughter, Beatrice, until she turns 17.
11 Britney Spears - Kevin Federline Was Awarded $40,000 A Month
Singer Britney Spears made her fortune on the back of her squeaky-clean image, but that image was destroyed when she first married a childhood friend after a night of drunken partying in Las Vegas and then walked down the aisle for real just a few months later, when she married one of her backup dancers, Kevin Federline. The troubled couple were together for three years and had two children together but it was never going to be happily ever after for Britney and K-Fed. When the couple split, he was awarded $40,000 a month from his ex-wife. There were rumors that Federline was refusing to marry his new girlfriend, as this would mean an end to his alimony checks. But in the end, he took the plunge again and married former athlete, Victoria Prince, in 2013.
10 Phil Collins - An Estimated Total Of $84 Million For 3 Wives
The former Genesis singer is obviously an old romantic at heart. Why else would he have married three times in his life and have spent an estimated total of $84 million on alimony payments to those same three wives? His first marriage ended in 1979, but it was his second marriage to Jill Tavelman that was the first to hit his pockets hard. After ending the relationship by fax, Collins was ordered to pay Tavelman $34 million. He then married Swiss-born translator, Orianne Cevey, in 2008, and after six years of marriage, the third and at the final moment, Mrs. Collins was awarded alimony payments totaling $47.76 million.
9 Silvio Berlusconi - $1.6 Million Per Month
Former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi may not be a Hollywood celebrity, but he is infamous throughout Europe for his seedy personal life, as much as for his political career and his successful business ventures. In 2014, his wife of 25 years, Veronica Lario, divorced Berlusconi after reports emerged that he had been having a rather enjoyable time at the birthday party of an 18-year-old acquaintance. The following year, former Mrs. Berlusconi was awarded alimony of €1.4 million per month, equivalent to about $1.6 million. This eye-watering figure was only reached after Berlusconi had appealed Ms Laria’s initial bid to be paid €3 million per month or $3.4 million every month.
8 Jennifer Lopez - $13 Million
J-Lo is another music star who has been anything but lucky in love. High-profile but ultimately unsuccessful relationships with Ben Affleck and Sean Combs were followed by an eight-year marriage to family friend Marc Anthony. However, it was Lopez’ second marriage, back in 2001, to backup dancer Cris Judd, that led to the singer having to pay a huge alimony settlement. Even though Lopez was married to Judd for less than a year, they reached a settlement that was worth about $13 million on condition that Judd never spoke about their brief relationship. Not bad work for the dancer considering that the payment worked out at about $50,000 for every day they were married.
7 Michael Jordan - $168 million
Basketball star, Michael Jordan, may have enjoyed an amicable split with Juanita Vanoy when they divorced after seventeen years of relatively happy marriage back in 2006, but he still ended up paying through the nose to get that divorce. Juanita was awarded a huge settlement thought to be worth about $168 million–plenty to keep the former banker and the couple’s two children in the lifestyle to which they had become accustomed. Jordan went on to marry a younger woman, model Yvette Prieto, at a star-studded ceremony in 2013. Unsurprisingly, though, he insisted on a prenup for the second time around.
6 Kevin Costner - $80 Million
Costner was one of the biggest Hollywood stars of the 1990’s, winning an Oscar for “Dances with Wolves” and earning over $50 million in 1991 alone. His wife, Cindy Silva, who Costner had married in 1978 when they were both college students, decided in 1994 that she wanted to divorce her husband, following rumors of a string of affairs and infidelities. Her timing was immaculate. Costner–and his earnings–were at their peak, and the long-suffering ex-wife was awarded a staggering $80-million settlement. Some might say it was only what she deserved after putting up with Costner’s womanizing for 16 years!
5 James Cameron And Linda Hamilton - $50 Million
Oscar-winning director James Cameron married actress Linda Hamilton in 1997, after the two had enjoyed a long working relationship, spending much of the ‘80s and ‘90s working together on the Terminator series of films. Despite the couple being a little older–and supposedly a little wiser–this marriage lasted just 18 months. In 1999, the couple announced their separation. Hamilton had discovered Cameron having an affair with a much younger woman while he was away filming the financially successful Titanic, and she took him to the cleaners, securing a healthy $50 million alimony settlement from the courts.
4 Michael Douglas - $45 Million
Actor Michael Douglas has been happily married to the much younger Catherine Zeta-Jones since 2000, but this was not his first trip down the aisle. He married Diandra Luker in 1977, a few years before he found real big-screen fame. However, the couple split 23 years later when the first Mrs. Douglas allegedly discovered Michael was already seeing the second Mrs. Douglas, Zeta-Jones, behind her back. Her errant husband had a string of major Hollywood successes to his name at that point, including Wall Street and Fatal Attraction, and his devoted wife was awarded a divorce settlement totaling around $45 million.
3 Madonna And Guy Ritchie - Rumored To Be Between $76 Million And $92 Million
The ultimate material girl married her toy-boy, film director Guy Ritchie, in 2000, although the singer had already been married to actor Sean Penn for four years, from 1985. Her marriage to Brit Ritchie lasted a little longer–eight years–and saw the couple adopt one child and have one of their own, but this wasn’t enough to save the relationship, so the pair divorced in 2008. In this case, Madonna’s earnings far outstripped her husband’s, and it was Ritchie who was awarded an alimony settlement, rumored to be between $76 million and $92 million. He had initially not wanted any of his ex-wife’s fortune, but when things turned ugly in the divorce court (and in the gossip columns), he changed his mind.
2 Harrison Ford - $85 Million
Even Han Solo couldn’t get out of trouble when his alter ego, Harrison Ford, divorced his wife of 21 years. Ford had met screenwriter Melissa Mathison in 1979–just before he hit the big time–and the pair married in 1983. However, by 2004, the couple had split, acrimoniously, and Mathison had hired one of the top Hollywood divorce lawyers. It appears that this lawyer was worth every cent, as she secured not only an $85-million lump sum, but also a split of future royalties from any movies Ford had made during their marriage, which included the successful Indiana Jones series of films.
1 Steven Spielberg - $100 Million Alimony Settlement
Steven Spielberg is one of the most successful directors of all time and has won two Oscars for his films Schindler’s List and Saving Private Ryan. However, he definitely wouldn’t get an Oscar for fidelity, as his first wife, Amy Irving, would attest to. The couple had been married for four years when Spielberg started dating Kate Capshaw, star of one of his Indiana Jones films, and Irving filed for divorce. The judge awarded her a $100-million alimony settlement, but only after ruling that a prenup the couple had scrawled on a cocktail napkin prior to their marriage wasn’t legally valid.