The rollercoaster marriage between LA Lakers hot shot Kobe Bryant and wife Vanessa now appears to be on the up, at least for now. According to TMZ, Vanessa plans to hold off on finalizing her divorce from Kobe as they attempt to work through their problems.
And that's good news for Kobe, and his bank account.
The couple, who married in 2001 in the early stages of the basketball player's budding career, stuck together even after an incident in 2003 in which Kobe was accused of sexual assault in Colorado. When Vanessa finally filed divorce papers in December 2011, after 10 years of marriage, the press and public alike were shocked to learn that the couple never signed a prenuptial agreement.
While Vanessa surely had other reasons to stay with Kobe after his public indiscretion, including their two children, it is likely that the lack of a prenuptial agreement played some role in her decision to stay with her husband for an additional seven years.
Under California's divorce law, a marriage that lasts 10 years or longer is defined as a lengthy marriage, which means that a spouse is allowed to maintain his or her standard of living after separation. Additionally, because of the lack of an agreement, Vanessa will be entitled to equalization of net family property over the course of the marriage. There is no doubt that this sum is significantly higher now than it was in 2003.
Since the separation, however, Kobe has been pushing to reconcile with his estranged wife. On Valentine's Day 2012, the couple was spotted sharing a kiss, sparking rumours that they would reunite. According to TMZ, Kobe, has been "aggressively" trying to save the marriage.
Why might this be, you ask? Of course there are the obvious reasons, he still loves her, they share a life, and they have two young children.
But there's also that prenuptial agreement, or lack thereof.
According to a 2011 LA Times article, Kobe was the highest-paid player in the 2010 season, earning a salary of $28.4 million from the NBA alone. That figure doesn't include his 2010 contract extension worth $83.5 million or his long list of endorsement deals, including Turkish Airlines and Mercedes-Benz. In 2010, Forbes magazine estimated that Kobe earned $53 million before taxes and agent fees. Without a prenuptial agreement in place, Vanessa is entitled to half of Kobe's gains made over the course of the marriage.
On top of the equalization of net family property, the 10 year marriage may entitle Vanessa to indefinite spousal support under California divorce law. That is in addition to the child support owed for the couple's two daughters, Natalia, age 8, and Giana, age 5.
In Ontario, under the Spousal Support Advisory Guidelines, spousal support will only be indefinite for marriages which are 20 years or longer, or the recipient of spousal support's age and years of marriage/common law add up to 65. Unfortunately for Kobe, Ontario's divorce laws don't apply in his situation.
It seems, for now anyways, Kobe has staved off the finalization of his divorce and impending payout as the couple attempts reconciliation. In Ontario, a court will not proceed until they are satisfied that there is not a possibility of reconciliation between the spouses (s. 10 Divorce Act).
Additionally, the lawyer acting on behalf of a spouse in a divorce proceeding has duty to ensure that their clients are aware of avenues for reconciliation. Section 9 of the Divorce Act states that legal counsel for both spouses have a duty to expressly draw the possibility of reconciliation to their client's attention, unless it would clearly be inappropriate given the circumstances of the case to do so.
These provisions are in place to ensure that the spouses' decision is not impulsive or brash, and that their choice to divorce is both in their and their children's best interest. As we know, marriages have their ups and downs, and the courts want to ensure that divorce is not a decision entered into lightly.