Negotiations over how marital assets will be divided can be highly contentious in a divorce, and this is particularly true when the spouses involved live in a community property state like California. Many celebrities live and work in the Golden State, and their divorce battles are often the subject of salacious media reports. The reporters writing these stories often focus on tales of abuse, adultery or neglect, but the value of the assets involved and the way that they will be divided are also popular subjects. While these stories often include interviews or quotes from the attorneys involved, they do not always contain sound legal information.
The rules on property division vary from state to state, and a story about a celebrity divorce in California may contain legal information that would not apply in equitable distribution states like Illinois or New York. Community property states require marital assets to be split equally while equitable distribution states only require a fair division.
Media stories about divorcing celebrities sometimes also contain mistakes about how marital property is determined. Only assets acquired during a marriage are subject to division, and spouses in possession of an asset are not granted any special status. However, celebrity divorce stories have included accounts of spouses fighting over royalties for works that preceded their marriages by decades.
Experienced family law attorneys will likely have spent many hours in heated property division negotiations, and they may suggest prenuptial agreements to couples who wish to avoid this fate. While these agreements may be seen by some as a cynical way for wealthy spouses to circumvent community property laws, family law attorneys may point out that they can also strengthen marriages by eliminating the insecurity and doubt that can erode even the strongest bonds over time.