Celebrity divorces show the power of the prenup

NBA players have the most to lose

The celebrity gossip industry is thriving like never before. Camera phones, web sites like TMZ.com and social networking platforms such as Twitter have turned dishing the dope on celebrities into a 24-hour-a-day sport.

Those same technological advancements have also turned professional athletes into some of the most famous – and infamous – people in America. When a 2009 car accident brought to light the infidelities of Tiger Woods, it set off a maelstrom of coverage on television, in newspapers and online that eventually culminated with the golfer divorcing his wife, Elin.

Of all the professional sports leagues in the U.S., none has seen the fame and fortunes of its players rise more prominently than the NBA. On average, the NBA's players make more money than other U.S. athletes and enjoy credibility with young Americans – "street cred" – that is unrivaled.

With all that money, you would think NBA athletes would protect themselves with prenuptial agreements, or "prenups", before getting married. However, we've seen high profile divorce cases in recent years that prove otherwise.

Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant, who is arguably the world's most famous basketball player, divorced his wife, Vanessa, earlier this year. The couple reportedly had no prenup, and published reports indicate Vanessa got a package worth $150 million, or half of Kobe's fortune.

"If there's no prenuptial agreement, then in many cases the wife will end up getting half of the couple's total assets," explains Tampa, Florida family lawyer Dean Kantaras of K. Dean Kantaras P.A. That appears to be what happened in the Kobe Bryant case and it will happen in most cases where star athletes have no prenup."

In some cases, both spouses are celebrities. NBA star Lamar Odom married reality TV star Khloe Kardashianin 2009. It was widely reported that prior to the wedding, Kardashian and Odom signed a prenup that guaranteed her $500,000 for every year they were married and $25,000 a month in general support in the event they divorced.

"This is a deal that appears to heavily favor Kardashian, especially considering she is becoming a global brand who might be worth more than her husband some day," says attorney Martin Sweet of legal information website THELAW.TV .

As for Woods, we don't know for sure how much his wife, Elin, received when they got divorced after the revelation that he had cheated on her with several women. Some media outlets reported she got a whopping $750 million in exchange for her silence on the matter. However, that report was later widely dismissed and it appears Elin actually received something closer to $100 million.

"The moral of the story is any man or woman who is worth a lot of money should strongly consider drawing up a prenup before getting married," adds Sweet ."It's the only way to make sure your assets are truly protected in the event the marriage doesn't work."

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