“She didn’t shoot any hoops, win a single game or do anything worth having half of that man’s fortune,” one of my good guy friends exclaimed to me over brunch regarding the much talked about divorce of Kobe and Vanessa Bryant. I shook my head at his ignorance and quickly reminded him that she had in fact done everything and more than most women could handle. Vanessa Bryant married at an early age giving up the freedom of her twenties, faced a great deal of humiliation in her marriage when a rape scandal made headlines across the world, dealt with a reported ten years of infidelity and raises his children. I’d say she’s done more than enough to deserve half of what’d he’s earned in ten years, wouldn’t you?

“How would you feel if we were married, you stepped out on me and the court ruled that you had to give me half of the fortune you’d worked so hard to earn,” my guy friend asked me. I’d never really thought about it like that until I heard about the recent news of comedian Russell Brand and pop star Katy Perry’s marriage ending. Reportedly the couple didn’t have a prenuptial agreement, which means disaster for Perry. The California divorcing law states: California is a community property state. Except as otherwise provided by statute, all property, real or personal, wherever situated, acquired by a married person during the marriage while domiciled in this state is community property.

Perry is obviously the bigger star among the two with Grammy nominations, hit songs and a sold out tour in 2011 alone. She’s made far more money than her estranged husband, which means half of what she’s earned during the marriage will now go to him and possible spousal support. I cringed at the thought of Brand receiving what Perry had worked so hard to earn. He hadn’t written a single song, performed for thousands of people or got nominated for any awards.

Wait a minute; I’m starting to sound like my ignorant guy friend.

Perhaps it’s because rarely do you hear of a woman’s property and fortune being taken during a divorce. In fact it is more than likely us who receives custody of the children, ownership of the house, child support and spousal support. Generally, we seem to get it all.

It occurred to me after my friend’s statement that yes, women can be extremely biased when it comes to discussing who gets what during a divorce. We cheered on Juanita Jordan when she received $168 million dollars in her divorce settlement, stood to our feet when Angela Bassett proudly burned her husband’s car and clothes in Waiting to Exhale and cleaned him out in court. We adore Ivanka Trump and shouted halleluiah when Shelia Johnson received $400 million dollars in her divorce settlement (She earned it, though. She helped  create BET).

However, we get upset when we hear about stories like Perry and cursed when we heard Madonna had to pay her ex-husband Guy Ritchie reportedly $90 million dollars in their divorce settlement. “It’s just not fair,” many of us shouted. But isn’t it?

Why should men work a lifetime to build their empire and give half to us, yet we get mad if we have to do the same? It seems unfair on both ends and it is. Marriage is tough and divorce is even tougher. Be smart before you say I do, it sometimes comes with an unexpected price.

I don’t know about you, but as for me in the great words of Yeezy, “we want pre-nup!”

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  • Blasé

    interesting question you raise. and i think we are biased but i also think it is understandable too.

    Perhaps someone else has already said this but I think the case of Brand & Perry is very different from the case of Kobe & Vanessa… I don’t know what work Vanessa does but I’m assuming that she’s the primary parent and primary home maker while Kobe travelled the country playing (on and off court). She worked just as hard as him to keep the family together, she just didn’t earn a cheque for it.

    People tend to disregard the work of the primary parent, the person that holds down the fort and working for family while the husband is off works for money. On the other hand, Katie Perry and Russell Brand didn’t haven’t any children. He didn’t have to work for the family while she was away. That’s why I find it ridiculous that he walks away on top with her being the highest earner (wonder if that was one of the issues in the marriage…)

  • Jo

    This article doesn’t really delve into divorce law, nor should it. That’s a complicated subject.
    In some states, when couples have been married for a significant amount of time, about ten years, they become entitled to half if you haven’t previously negotiated terms in a prenup.

    Just get a prenup, people. It protects everyone.

  • AG

    Here’s what i need to know — which states are the smartest to get married in? That’s where I’ll be

  • I think it’s fair that men and women have the 50% because it’s contractually fair. I, however will never sign a pre-nup NOR would I ever marry a man that insisted that we get one. Marriage is work and there are risks that come with taking that step… but there are also great rewards. Marriage is beyond contracts though. It’s a covenant between me, my man and God. The three of us vow to do this thing until we are parted by death. If you propose to me and suggest that we get a pre-nuptial agreement I can only believe that you have considered us not being together for some reason or another… and for me, that’s a deal breaker. I want forever and I want a man who wants and will work toward us being together forever, even and ESPECIALLY during the hard times.

    In the case of Kobe and Vanessa, I’m sure that Vanessa tried to stay with Kobe through the bad but because of his alleged cheating the bad became too bad and she has decided that its time to part ways. Because they did not have a pre-nup and they live in Cali she will get half of what THEY earned during the marriage, NOT half of what he made. The same for Katy and Russell. They will split half of what THEY earned as a couple. It just so happens that Kobe and Katy contributed more to that pot than their spouses.

    Maybe people will consider how serious marriage is and reconsider from now on.

  • A

    She earned it! Go Vanessa!