Kobe Bryant’s wife files high-asset divorce petition

Professional basketball star Kobe Bryant is reputedly the top money maker in his profession. Last year he earned close to $25 million in salary, and he also exercised a contract extension worth more than $80 million.

Undoubtedly, his soon-to-be ex-wife Vanessa is well aware of all the material details, since she filed for divorce from Bryant last week. Given the couple’s high profile and glamorous lifestyle (e.g., Kobe gave Vanessa a ring valued at $4 million following a sexual assault charge he was facing in 2003), the dissolution promises to qualify as a high-asset divorce in all dimensions.

Notably, the couple has been married for more than 10 years. Under California law — different from Georgia law in some respects, most immediately in that California is a community property rather than an equitable distribution state — a marriage of more than a decade is deemed to be lengthy, meaning that a spouse such as Vanessa is legally entitled to maintain her accustomed standard of living post-divorce.

Some experts say that, with Bryant having an estimated net worth of at least $150 million, Vanessa will walk away from the divorce with fully half of that, plus continuing spousal and child support.

That estimate is based on a belief that the couple did not execute a prenuptial agreement prior to marriage. Under California law, and in the absence of such an agreement, Vanessa would be entitled to half of all the couple’s community property.

Source: Los Angeles Times, “Experts say Bryant’s wife stands to make windfall in divorce” Rick Rojas and Richard Winton, Dec. 20, 2011

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