Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones: Divorce, or Trial Separation?

The 13-year marriage of Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones has officially come to a halt. Their split was announced in August 2013 and has been primarily attributed to the couple's respective health problems.

Douglas was diagnosed with throat cancer in 2010, from which he is now in remission. He entered news headlines in 2013 when he made public that the cause of his throat cancer was oral sex. Not only was the battle against cancer a strain on their marriage, but the implication that Douglas contracted throat cancer from an HPV virus carried by Zeta-Jones may have also factored into the separation. This is despite statements by Douglas' publicist and friends that the virus was not contracted from his current wife.

To add to the 43-year-old movie star's problems, Zeta-Jones was diagnosed with bipolar II disorder in 2011 for which she sought treatment for at the time of her diagnosis and again in April 2013. Given Zeta-Jones' mental condition, one must wonder whether Douglas' public announcement of the cause of his cancer was a calculated attempt to push his wife deeper into depression, or whether he was merely trying to educate people on a not-so-widely-known cause of cancer.

A person diagnosed with bipolar II disorder experiences more frequent depressive episodes and shorter intervals of well-being. Interestingly, one of the symptoms of bipolar II is hypersexuality as well as risky behaviours, according to Wikipedia.

It has also been suggested that Cameron Douglas, Michael's 34-year-old son from his first marriage to Diandra Luker, may have driven a wedge between the Hollywood duo. Cameron has experienced spiraling legal troubles for years as a result of his ongoing drug abuse.

Legal Issues

While the two have definitely separated, one important question remains: is their marriage really over, or are Douglas and Zeta-Jones merely experimenting with a trial separation? Neither has filed any legal documents officially seeking divorce, and friends of the couple remain optimistic about the likelihood of reconciliation.

Another issue is the custody of the children Zeta-Jones and Douglas have together. There are two children of the marriage: Dylan, 13, and Carys, 10. While the true status of their separation remains uncertain, one thing is certain: they both want the best for their children, which includes shielding them from the media during this difficult time. So far, no statement has been given concerning which parent the children will primarily live with.

Finally, no Hollywood split would be complete without a handsome financial settlement. Rumour has it that Douglas and Zeta-Jones signed a prenuptial agreement that would entitle Zeta-Jones to millions of dollars in the event that they divorce. When Douglas divorced from his ex-wife Diandra Luker after 20 years of marriage in 2000, Luker received a financial settlement of more than $45 million, making it one of the largest divorce settlements in Hollywood history.

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