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Celebrity Divorce: Why Do We Pay Attention When Famous Couples Divorce So Publicly?


They're rich. They're beautiful. They're mega-famous. And they're divorcing-bitterly. The list of divas, dancers, actors, singers, sports stars, and politicians experiencing very public and very nasty divorce battles can seem almost endless.

Sooner or later, it seems, almost every famous couple will file papers citing irreconcilable differences. The stakes are naturally high-with millions, and sometimes billions, of dollars on the line, these couples hire expensive divorce lawyers to preserve their fortunes and publicists to contain the mud-slinging. So if they're doing all that, why isn't it working? Why are the tabloids and the newspapers filled with headlines of abuse, adultery, alcoholism or worse?

Britney Spears and Kevin Federline, for example, were reportedly involved in a heated financial child custody battle until Britney checked into rehab, then out of rehab, then back into rehab, and out again, this time finishing the program. Spears' stint in rehab may have given estranged husband Kevin Federline the leverage he needed to negotiate a better settlement. Post-rehab, Spears and Federline reportedly reached an agreement that gave Federline more than the pre-nuptial one million dollars that the couple had agreed upon two years prior. Does the public really need to know this? No. Do they want to know it? Yes.

Perhaps there is a public interest because when divorcing celebrities argue and fight over money and custody, maybe they make the rest of us feel normal, and fortunate, in comparison. It's also possible that celebrity divorce proceedings give us an otherwise unseen glimpse into the private, and often excessively luxurious, lives of the stars.

Sir Paul McCartney and Heather Mills, for example, have been fighting for months over custody of their daughter Beatrice, 3, as well as a large portion of McCartney's rumored billions. Unlike many celebrities, the former Beatle married Mills without a pre-nuptial agreement and may pay dearly for it. Until the couple split, however, the public might not have known much about their lifestyles, nor McCartney's financial status.

Since the divorce, the media has reported that McCartney bought Mills a very expensive townhouse as a gift to her, and that he owns priceless artwork, which Mills reported stolen from one of their mansions in England. That's right-one of their mansions in England. It turns out that McCartney reportedly had the artwork removed from the home and didn't notify Mills about it because they were divorcing. Again, this is a glimpse into the behaviors and lifestyles of the rich and famous. McCartney's net worth-and whether that might be billions-has also been widely discussed. If the couple were still happily married, it's unlikely any newspapers would have been reporting on the details of their lifestyle.

Sometimes mere curiosity or oddities can make a celebrity divorce interesting. Though not necessarily household names, New Jersey Nets basketball star couple Jason and Jourmana Kidd have made headlines with their acrimonious and bizarre accusations. The couple, married for ten years, has brought mud-slinging to a new level, with mutual restraining orders granted and accusations of physical and mental abuse, infidelity, harassment, spying, drinking and gambling problems, among other claims. The couple has three children together.

Also bizarre is the divorce of former New Jersey Governor Jim McGreevey, who is divorcing wife Dina Matos, after declaring his homosexuality and publicly admitting to having an affair with a male staff member, while his wife was at his side. Matos has since written a book about her marriage to McGreevey, and now McGreevey is objecting in court to Matos' alleged "fear" of his homosexuality, as well as protesting Matos' plans to take the couple's daughter on Matos' book tour.

Some celebrities, however, manage to keep their divorces relatively private. Michael and Juanita Jordan, though mentioned in Forbes magazine as being one of the most expensive divorces on record, have kept a relatively low profile considering the fortune that is at stake. Actress Reese Witherspoon and ex-husband Ryan Phillippe also had a low-key divorce, by Hollywood standards.

One thing is for sure: celebrities will continue to divorce, and public interest in their heartbreaks and their legal wranglings over money, property, alimony, custody, child support, and visitation issues will probably never end.

If you're one of those people who must have the scoop on the latest celebrity divorces, then you'll love our Celebrity Divorce Spotlight. Check it out and see your favorite celebrities in new lights that you might not have ever expected!

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