To the public, the 1999 marriage of Courteney Cox and David Arquette may have looked a little off balance. Cox was in the middle of the enormously popular television series "Friends"; Arquette didn't seem quite as A-list. When the couple separated in 2010, gossip columns speculated that she had outshone him professionally, and the relationship had suffered as a result.
It was a little different this week, as news outlets picked up the story that the couple has filed for divorce. Now, the focus is less on the cause of the breakup and more on division of property and custody issues. A handful of articles report that the two stars did not have a prenuptial agreement; the tone of some reports are decidedly scornful, too. It's as if the media is pointing and whispering, "How dumb can the rich and famous be?"
Without the prenup, their home state will require that Cox and Arquette divide their marital assets equally. It's a community property state, unlike Illinois. But the couple seems fine with that. One report includes a statement that they are representing themselves in the matter and have agreed to the 50/50 split and shared custody of their daughter.
They are the exception to the unspoken rule of celebrity splits, though. The "how dumb" question is certainly harsh, and we should all remember that high hopes for romance and marriage missteps aren't the exclusive territory of celebrities. What celebrities' divorce and child custody fights can do is provide a springboard for a conversation about how to avoid the same kind of pain and expense.
The prenup is an example. Kelsey Grammer, for example, did not have a prenuptial agreement with his ex-wife Camille. Over the course of their 13-year marriage, the couple amassed a significant fortune. It isn't clear if that was one or the other's doing, but Grammer is rumored to have paid his ex $50 million to end the marriage. With a prenup, presumably one or the other could have done better. More importantly, a prenup may have saved them months of bitter court battles.
We'll continue this in our next post.
Huffington Post, "Celebrity Divorce: What It Can Teach Us," Silvana D. Raso, June 5, 2012
Times of India, "Cox, Arquette seek smooth divorce," June 15, 2012