Britney Spears is finding, like the rest of us, that divorce can be expensive. Not only emotionally, but financially.
To resolve her custody dispute with ex-husband Kevin Federline, the belly-baring singer had to pay her attorney $466,000 and his lawyers $250,000. Those bills are enough to give anyone a major bellyache.
Federline was granted full custody of their two sons but she does get overnight visits.
Spears and Federline married in 2004 and divorced last July. She is one of a growing number of women who pay "manimony" — Federline gets $20,000 a month from Spears.
But considering her immature antics, irresponsible behavior, and two hospitalizations, most saw Federline as a better alternative to parent.
However, news reports say that Spears is now expected to contest part of the legal bill as being too high.
According to Us Magazine, the largest bill comes from attorney Stacy D. Phillips, who says in court filings that she is owed nearly $407,000 for four months of work. Phillips claims she has written off another $125,000 in fees.
Phillips states in court documents the case was made more complicated because Spears is under the temporary conservatorship of her father, James. He took control of his daughter's personal and financial affairs after a series of high-profile incidents of erratic behavior and two hospitalizations.
Any payments will have to be approved by a Los Angeles court commissioner, and attorneys representing Spears' and her father's interests indicated last week in court they intend to contest Phillips' bill.
Diana Mercer, a California attorney who specializes in mediation, says she is sympathetic to Britney Spears’s lawyer.
“Given that the top divorce lawyers in Los Angeles charge upwards of $1000 per hour, 409 hours for a major celebrity case with difficult issues and a [I assume] demanding client, it’s not a clear overcharge based on the numbers,” she says.
“It’s not unusual for high conflict custody matters to incur fees this high; in fact, I’m surprised the bill is as low as it is. It must not be for the entire divorce (certainly) or post-judgment custody issues.”
As Los Angeles Superior Court Family Law Presiding Judge Marjorie Steinberg said in the May 4 issue of the Los Angeles Times Magazine, a typical divorce in L.A. costs can range from $50,000 on each side to as much as $1 million.
In the heat of the battle, people aren’t being practical when it comes to emotional and financial costs of court room fights. After it’s over, the only one that really gains is the divorce attorney.
Which is why mediation is so beneficial. Mediation fees are typically 90% cheaper than going to court.
“If Britney Spears and Kevin Federline had decided to mediate, she would have easily saved $360,000,” says Mercer. “And if Howard Stern can mediate his divorce, can’t anyone?”