Mel Gibson: Will He Fight His Divorce Payout?

The star could take a lesson from John Cleese.

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Mel Gibson seems to have missed the lesson that John Cleese provided last month when Cleese managed to cut his payments to his ex-wife in half. People reports that the Gibson divorce may, in fact, be the most expensive in history. He has been married to his wife, Robyn Gibson, for 28 years, and their prenup specifies that she will receive half of everything. In Gibson's case, "everything" is about $1 billion.

In addition to earnings from his films and other projects, Gibson owns over $100 million in real estate, including a Fiji Island, People reports. But the divorce lawyer interviewed by the magazine speculates that there won't be a court battle, as there was with Cleese, because "there's enough money to go around."

I wouldn't be so sure of that. There are lots of reasons to avoid court battles -- to protect privacy, to continue having a cordial relationship with the ex -- but I don't think anyone ever thinks they have enough money, or is willing to part with it without a fight. Now, maybe I'm underestimating Gibson, but based on past celebrity divorces, I think we might be in for a bit of a public showdown.

Just in case Gibson plans to challenge his prenup, here's that lesson from the Cleese case. Cleese convinced 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, and not just celebrity ones, can relate to -- and possibly learn from.

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