John Cleese: How to Save Money on Divorce

What divorcing couples can learn from the comedian.

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John Cleese, the incompetent hotel manager from Fawlty Towers, has proved himself a savvy divorcée. He has reportedly cut his million-pounds-a-year-plus payouts to his former wife in half. So, as thousands of divorcing men and women might like to know, how did he do it?

The key appears to have been convincing the courts that he no longer earned the kind of money that he used to -- and that he was under no obligation to support his former wife in the manner to which she had become accustomed. (For her part, Alyce Faye Eichelberger says that she was used to "'being entertained by royalty and dignitaries in castles" while married to Cleese, according to the Daily Mail.) While Cleese had a lucrative year in 2007 because of a real estate sale and earnings from Shrek 3, he argued that it wasn't fair to base his spousal support on such high numbers. Now, he says, he earns closer to £76,000 a month and he had to sell his California home for less than he planned because of the economy. It's a situation many divorcing couples can relate to -- and possibly learn from.

  • For more, read: "The Financial Rights of First Wives."