The Legal Side of Top 5 Celebrity Divorces

Mar 18, 2016
Reading Time: 5 minutes
Written by Ananya Singh

Who does not love to sit down on a rainy day with a cup of tea and your iPad, by the window, to read about the most scandalous and juicy celebrity divorces?

Following are the ex-couples that made LawPath’s top 5 celebrity divorce list.

1. Charlie Sheen and Denise Richards

A great example of the phrase “love fades away” is the bitter divorce of Charlie Sheen and Denise Richards.

In the most recent updates, Sheen has turned his back on the trust funds that he created for his children. According to the same source, Charlie believes that the trust fund is his ex-wife’s attempt to extort more money from him. Meanwhile Sheen’s apathetic behaviour as seen in his role in Two and a Half Men, is not limited to the show, Richards believes that Charlie has “gone off the rails” in recent years.

Richards claimed that he purchased a house in Mulholland Estates for her and the kids so he could repair his relationship with them. He supposedly agreed to not evict them but did so last September.

The divorce is fairly messy and public in its legal proceedings. Denise is claiming $1.2 million from Charlie, that would go towards purchasing a home for her children. This was roughly the amount Charlie agreed to pay under their trust agreement for the children.

However, Sheen’s divorce lawyer claims that Charlie will fight the claim, as he is paying for the children’s schooling and other expenses on top of the $55k per month child support.

2. Sir Paul McCartney and Heather Mills

We seldom take time to consider that the extreme publicity of celebrity divorces must make the process harder for the celebs. This appears to be the case in one of the most highly-publicised divorces, that of Sir Paul McCartney and Heather Mills.

The Court rejected Mills’ application to keep the divorce proceedings and judgement as confidential. The judgement’s summary was released by the court in 2008. It highlights the issues with an individual’s right to privacy in English law.

Whilst Mills received £24.3 million in settlement, it is less than a fifth of the £125 million she had sought from their four year marriage.

Justice Hugh Bennett’s made critical comments in his ruling regarding Mill stating he was “driven to the conclusion that much of her evidence, both written and oral, was not just inconsistent and inaccurate but also less than candid…”.The judge also claimed Mills financial-support requests, totalling to $730,000 for private flights, clothes and wine, to be “ridiculous”. (However, it is understandable why Mills would require $80,000 for wine alone.. She is going through a divorce …)

Regardless, the divorce settlement seems to have been in favour of Sir Paul.

3. Madonna and Guy Ritchie

‘Material girl’ Madonna is going to have a little less ‘material’ following her divorce that ended with Ritchie getting a settlement amount between $76-$92 million.

Following the divorce, the ex-couple share custody of their two children. However, last year Madonna filed an application under the Hague Convention, in relation to child abduction, for the return of her and Ritchie’s biological son, Rocco, to America.

However, she recently withdrew her application, most likely to negotiate an agreement as suggested by Mr. Justice MacDonald, who heard the issue in a preliminary hearing.

4. Amy Poehler and Will Arnett

Life of comedians is not always as cheerful as their acts. This, unfortunately, applies to our favourite (ex) comedy couple, Amy Poehler and Will Arnett. Married in 2003, Will filed for a divorce in 2014 at a Los Angeles Superior Court. Although, the couple separated in 2012.

Whilst celebrity couples announce their “separation”, that is different from being legally divorced. Separating only means that a couple is living separately, but they are still legally married. So Amy and Will separated in 2012 but they were legally married until 2014, until the finalisation of their divorce.

Note: legal separation is different to couples simply ‘living apart’. It is a court enforced order that dictates the couples’ rights and duties as they are still married but living apart. It can also enforce spousal and/or child support payments and property division during the time of separation.

Arnett applied for joint custody of his and Poehler’s children in his divorce filings. This means that both Arnett and Poehler will be equally involved in decision-making and upbringing of, and in regards to, their children given that Poehler does not dispute the claim of joint custody.

Since we have not heard of any such disputes in the media, either Arnett and Poehler are doing a good job of keeping it under the radar or the divorce was settled smoothly. Regardless, there is no easy process of going through a divorce.

In the words of Leslie Knope: “Hey Leslie, it’s Leslie. Hang in there. I love you. Bye.

5. Kourtney Kardashian and Scott Disick

Let’s be honest, would this list really be complete without a Kardashian breakup?

Interestingly, Kardashian and Disick were never married in the first place. But the couple had been together for nine years and share three children, definitely classifying them as having been in a de-facto relationship. But here’s the twist: they would classify as a de facto relationship only under Australian law.

In contrast to Australian law, de facto relationships are not recognised under US law. Instead, US law recognises the mother of the children as having full custody from birth of the child. So for Scott to gain custody rights under US law as an unmarried father, he must demonstrate to the court that he is and will be actively involved in raising the child. However, the couple could negotiate custody arrangements, outside of court, in the process of splitting up. Whereas in Australia, parental custody of a child is determined by the Family Court and Federal Circuit Court regardless of if the parents are married or in a de facto partnership.

Kourtney Kardashian has been supposedly arranging meetings with one of Hollywood’s top divorce attorneys, Laura Wesser, also known as “disso queen,” to seek sole custody of her children. Kardashian supposedly broke off the relationship in the interest of her and Disick’s children as Scott may no longer be ‘fit to be a parent’ because of his partying habits.

Divorce In Australia

According to, divorce is the second most stressful event in a person’s life… However, marriage is number 7… So in the words of Leslie Knope: “Look out people, it’s all bad.”

However, do not panic, we got you covered. LawPath’s blogpost, “Divorce for women: Your legal rights”, is a useful guide outlining your basic rights, not only for women but it is also useful to men and all people involved in the process.

Although, the number of divorces, across Australia, decreased by 1,140 (2.4%) in 2014. Slater and Gordon suggest that a divorce can cost anywhere between $20K – 50K. That is a painfully high amount for an already wretched process of divorce.

Surely, majority of the people do not expect to get divorced when they marry, but if you find yourself in the position of needing professional legal help, you can contact LawPath and request a Quick Quote to get advice from an expert lawyer.

Let us know your thoughts on the celebrity divorces by tagging us #lawpath or @lawpath.

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