These two high-profile Hollywood marriages started off in very different ways, but they both ended the same: in divorce. Both women are wealthy and powerful. The husbands in question, however, spend a little less time in the spotlight. In yet another twist on the traditional concept of marriage, it is the men who could come out richer after the divorce papers are signed.
The way they were
Both Britney Spears and Reese Witherspoon were young when they married. That is about all these two have in common. Reese's romance with Ryan Phillipe started at her 21st birthday party. Their story was made for Hollywood. The descendant of one of America's founding fathers (Declaration of Independence signatory John Witherspoon) finds a handsome prince. They had two children, a boy and a girl. For seven years, it seemed they would live happily ever after. Then last month, amid rumors that Ryan was cheating with a young co-star, Reese filed for divorce. The reason listed was 'irreconcilable differences.'
Britney Spears, on the other hand, went from being a Mickey Mouse Club bred pop tartlet to joining the ranks of Hollywood's controversy queens. Her career included a string of chart topping hits, a romance with Justin Timberlake, and an open-mouthed kiss with Madonna. Next, she married a childhood friend in a Las Vegas ceremony. That marriage only lasted 55 hours. Eight months later, she married Kevin Federline a former backup dancer for Timberlake. The fact that Federline already had a child and another on the way when he met Britney instantly shot their relationship into the tabloids. Their reality show, "Chaotic" only fueled gossips writers' fire.
Much of the writing centered on Federline's hard-partying lifestyle and rumors he was after Britney's money. After their first son, Sean Preston, was born things did not settled down. Not long after slimming down following the birth of their second son, Britney filed for divorce citing 'irreconcilable differences.'
Fight for Custody
In both the Spears and Witherspoon divorces, the fate of young children are at stake. At least for now, it appears Reese and Ryan will be able to work through things amicably. Witherspoon asked for full physical custody of the children with visitation rights for Phillipe. Representatives for both have said the two will do what they can to protect their children, Ava and Deacon.
Britney filed for full custody of her two sons. Days later, Kevin also filed for sole custody and spousal support. It looks as though the court battles ahead will be nasty. According to a statement from his attorney, Kevin has said he "is prepared to go the distance in order to do what he feels is necessary to protect and safeguard the children and will not be intimidated or dissuaded from pursuit of those goals."
Again, there are rumors Kevin only wants money from Britney. It has been said the custody demand is a ploy to get her to offer him a settlement of a larger amount of money than he would get under the terms of their pre-nuptial agreement.
Pre-nuptials, Better for Britney, Worse for Reese
Initially, Britney did not want an agreement. Her mother and attorneys essentially forced her to do so. They may have save her millions. The soon-to-be ex Mrs. Federline is said to be worth around $120 million dollars. Under the terms of the agreement, Federline will get spousal support for one year, about half the time they were married. According to TMZ.com, he will get less than 20% of the value of the couple's Malibu home. Together, that is less than $250,000. If he were to get custody, Federline would be entitled to child support. Legal experts say that is unlikely given his lifestyle and lack of attention to his two other children with former girlfriend Shar Jackson.
Reese Witherspoon, on the other hand, did not ask her prince to sign a pre-nuptial. Because California is a community property state, earnings and property acquired during the marriage will be split 50-50. Reese is Hollywood's highest paid actress, commanding $20 million per movie. While it is unclear how much she is worth entirely, in 2005 alone she made $30 million for "Walk the Line" and "Just Like Heaven." Ryan could substantially increase his net worth in the divorce.
However, this issue is whether it could get difficult for Witherspoon and Phillippe to remain civil. He has asked for spousal support. In her filing, Reese asked that the judge block any request of spousal support from Ryan.
One's marriage had a fairytale beginning, while the other's was played out in the tabloids from the start. Yet, the ending for both is strikingly similar. Both face divorce, court, and custody battles that will only be magnified by their fame.