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Celebrity divorces break the bank

Celebrity divorces are big business. Tabloids voraciously cover them. Fans hungrily follow them. Lawyers and business managers protectively orchestrate them. And they certainly are common. Last year alone saw the breakups of Britney Spears and Kevin Federline, Paul McCartney and Heather Mills, and Reese Witherspoon and Ryan Phillippe.Many Hollywood marriages last barely long enough for the ink to
/ Source: Forbes

Celebrity divorces are big business. Tabloids voraciously cover them. Fans hungrily follow them. Lawyers and business managers protectively orchestrate them. And they certainly are common. Last year alone saw the breakups of Britney Spears and Kevin Federline, Paul McCartney and Heather Mills, and Reese Witherspoon and Ryan Phillippe.

Many Hollywood marriages last barely long enough for the ink to dry on the marriage licenses. Singer Kid Rock and "Baywatch" babe Pam Anderson were wed for just four months. Actress Drew Barrymore's nuptials to comic Tom Green hit the skids after five months. Pop diva Jennifer Lopez and backup dancer Chris Judd managed to make it to only the eight-month mark before calling it quits.

Who did what to whom is far less important in a celebrity divorce than who gives what to whom. Generally, the bigger the star, the greater the payout. For the show-biz legends who landed on our list of the 10 Most Expensive Celebrity Divorces, the spectacular settlements with their exes made Hollywood history.

The list is populated exclusively by superstar men who settled with their ex-wives — a reflection of the historic dominance men have played in the entertainment industry. Though stars like Kirstie Alley and Janet Jackson have ponied up settlements to their ex-husbands, the biggest awards by far are paid out by men.

By and large, these weren't quickie marriages —after all, in general, the longer the marriage, the richer the payout. On average, these one-time power couples were married for 12½ years, and the settlements reflect that. Case in point: Former television producer Marcia Murphey walked away with $150 million, or half her ex's fortune. She's "worth every penny," remarked her husband of 25 years, music icon Neil Diamond. And the current divorce between basketball great Michael Jordan and his wife, Juanita, married for nearly 18 years, could be the most expensive show-biz divorce ever. Jordan earned much of his vast fortune during the course of the marriage (mostly off the court, thanks to rich endorsement deals).

And to prove that divorce hasn't soured them to marriage, several members of the list have remarried. Following his divorce from Amy Irving, Spielberg wed "Indiana Jones" actress Kate Capshaw. And after 10 years as a bachelor, Kevin Costner, once one of Hollywood's most ubiquitous and top-earning actors, got remarried in 2004 to Christine Baumgartner, nearly 20 years his junior.