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Top 10: Most Expensive Divorce Settlements

By Matthew Simpson

Entertainment Correspondent - Every 2nd Wednesday
Top 10 Lists Specials

Pages: | 1 | 2 | 3 |
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Editors' Note: This article was published before Harrison Ford's ex-wife, Melissa Mathison, was awarded $118 million in January 2004. Otherwise, that divorce settlement would have surely been way up there.

According to the National Center for Health Statistics, 43% of first marriages will end in divorce or separation within 15 years in the United States. In 2000, there were 957,200 divorces, and reconciliation occured only for about 10% of them. In 1994, Massachusetts had the lowest divorce rate in the country with 2.4 divorces for every 1,000 people, while Nevada had the highest rates with 9.0.

Most of the time, divorces are settled between the spouses. But sometimes lawyers intervene and the court judges what each person is entitled to. For everyday people, this process is often nothing to write home about. But when a couple is worth billions of dollars, the stakes are not about nickels and dimes anymore and it's soon obvious that prenuptial agreements can be man's second best friend. Oftentimes, it's the ex-husband who ends up compensating the woman. On that note, let's explore the craziest payouts by checking out history's most expensive divorce settlements.

The criteria to compile this list are simple; we're looking for lump sum payments, without adding monthly expenses and alimony, which occurred within the last few decades. Sorry Mr. and Mrs. Trump, you don't qualify for the list!

Number 10

Ted Danson & Casey Coates -- $30 million
Ted Danson's claim to fame is undoubtedly his decade-long stint as Sam Malone on NBC's celebrated sitcom Cheers. While he did other TV shows and movies, he will always be known as the bartender of that place where everybody knows your name. He met his future first bride Casey, a designer, in 1976 while doing Erhard Seminars Training.

Ten years his senior, she suffered a paralyzing stroke while giving birth to their first child in 1979. In order to nurse her back to health, Danson took a break from acting for six months. But after two children and 15 years of marriage, the infatuation fell to pieces. Danson had started seeing Whoopi Goldberg while filming the comedy, Made in America and this precipitated the 1992 divorce. Casey got $30 million for her trouble.

Credit: UPI
Number 9

Michael & Diandra Douglas -- $45 million
An Academy Award-winning actor and producer, Michael Douglas has been a favorite of moviegoers for over 20 years. Michael, an alleged sex addict, married Diandra in 1977, when his career in feature films was still burgeoning (he was involved in the production of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest in 1975).

Apparently fed up with his philandering, the documentary producer, owner of a clothing firm, and mother of grown son Cameron, filed for divorce in 1997. Two years of negotiations later, Michael agreed to pay $45 million (practically a third of the actor/producer's estimated fortune) to finalize the proceedings and be free to marry Catherine Zeta-Jones.

Number 8

James Cameron & Linda Hamilton -- (more than) $50 million
James Cameron is the visionary filmmaker who gave the world grand Hollywood spectacles like the first two Terminator movies, in which Linda Hamilton starred, True Lies, and Titanic. The romance between the two reportedly began on the set of T2 in 1991, although they only got married in July 1997.

But at that time, Titanic was released and Cameron apparently spent more time with one of his stars, Suzy Amis, than with his wife. During their 17-month marriage, which produced a daughter, they were separated for eight months. Cameron, whom Hamilton describes as an "absolutely miserable, miserable, unhappy man," was forced to give her more than half his revenues from Titanic -- over $50 million -- in 1999.

What Kenny Rogers forked over, and Steven Spielberg's hefty divorce settlement... Next >>

Article Suggested By: Pete Norris, Allentown, PA
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Disclaimer: This article is for entertainment purposes only. The findings and opinions of authors expressed herein are those of the author and do not necessarily state or reflect those of

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