I recently read a column online for the Washington Times Communities Social Journalism from Independent Voices, and in particular the column called: “Legally Speaking,” by Myra Fleischer. The impetus for the article appeared to be the rumor that Kobe Bryant and his wife, Vanessa, perhaps were not going to go through with the divorce that was filed by Mrs. Bryant, and Ms. Fleischer raised the specter that the reason may be the old notion that it is “cheaper to keep her.” Ms. Fleischer then proceeds to discuss in her article what she states are the “top 10 richest Hollywood divorce payouts.” The article then proceeds to discuss the divorce settlements of Kevin Costner, Madonna, Steven Spielberg, Tiger Woods, and other celebrities, and eventually works its way into suggesting that somehow Kobe Bryant may have been influenced by “what happened to basketball great, Michael Jordan and decided to put the brakes on his divorce.” Ms. Fleischer then makes a statement in her article without any support for the statement, which by the way is consistent with all of the other statements regarding celebrity divorces in her article, saying that Michael Jordan’s divorce was the most expensive celebrity divorce in history at that time and states a settlement amount, again, without quoting any authority for the statement.
Have you ever wondered where the people who write these articles get their information? Having represented celebrities and athletes in divorces, including Michael Jordan, I can tell you that rarely, if ever, is a divorce settlement made part of a public record. In fact, there rarely, if ever, is a need to publicize the financial particulars of a divorce, and assuming both parties to a divorce want some level of privacy, the terms of a Marital Settlement Agreement may be kept out of the public record. A year after the Jordan divorce was completed, I remember reading an article in a local Chicago newspaper that cited in the article to the London Times about the Jordan divorce settlement. I laughed as I read the article and wondered how the London Times had allegedly gotten the information, but it begs the question, if one inaccurate source cites to another inaccurate source, what’s the point of the alleged facts. I suppose it goes to the old adage of never letting the facts get in the way of a good story. We love celebrities and athletes and have an insatiable thirst for gossip about their lives, their marriages, and their divorces, and accordingly, bloggers and other media outlets love to create a good story.
Divorce is very personal and private, and most high-level divorces will maintain confidentiality, so be careful to question what you read and look to see if any article or media outlet cites to any legitimate source for its assertion of fact. Unless there is a legitimate source cited, believe half of what you see and none of what you hear, or read, and simply enjoy the work of celebrities and entertainers that are meant for our enjoyment, not the personal gossip of their private lives.