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Vanessa Bryant to get millions in divorce -- but is it a 'windfall'?

BryantsLakers star Kobe Bryant's divorce has been big news in Los Angeles. After the initial article in Saturday's LATExtra section that reported Vanessa Bryant's court filing, an article Tuesday looked into details of a possible settlement. The couple reportedly had no prenuptial agreement, so, the article said, Vanessa Bryant is probably entitled to at least $75 million, half of her husband’s net worth.

The article characterized this as a "windfall" for Vanessa Bryant.

Reader Pam Wilson of San Diego said she found this description "blatantly sexist."

PHOTOS: Kobe and Vanessa Bryant

"The premise is that Bryant's wife, Vanessa, does not deserve half of the couple's community property," Wilson emailed. "She is getting a 'windfall,' i.e. something she does not deserve, because obviously, Kobe was the one earning the money."

The Times' dictionary of record, Webster's New World College Dictionary, 4th Edition, defines a windfall as "any unexpected acquisition, gain, or stroke of good luck." It doesn’t suggest that a windfall is something undeserved. However, the definition of surprise or luck doesn't square with the usage in the article. A community-property settlement isn't lucky -- it's the law.

Wilson also questioned where the term came from. The second paragraph of the article reads: "But legal experts said it's clear Bryant's wife will leave the marriage with a windfall."

"Which legal expert said that?" Wilson asked. "Not one is quoted in the story as the source for that sexist characterization."

In the article, attorney Dmitry Gorin says that Vanessa Bryant will probably get "more than enough for many lifetimes." But Wilson is right, no one is quoted as using the word "windfall," which makes it appear to be The Times' description.

Though many of us would consider $75 million to be a windfall, in the context of a settlement under the state’s community-property law, "windfall" wasn't the right word.

--Deirdre Edgar

Photo: Kobe and Vanessa Bryant at a benefit in 2005. Credit: Anne Cusack / Los Angeles Times

 
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Comments (32)

I think they are going to make up and be happy ever after. Im not wealthy but my wife and me we do ok and I had a simular situation and we work through it and we are very happy today. If the media and people would stay out of their business, I think they can work it out with a little prayer...........

Very attractive couple with 2 beautiful children. At least for the children sake, someone please try and help them work things out. Please! That is a big problem in this country people arent taking their marriage values seriously.

It is a windfall. What has Vanessa Bryant done have besides letting Kobe desposit his sperm into her? She's a no-talent who purposely waited 10 years to get a divorce. So i guess her talent is keeping track of time.

Of course it's not a windfall. She did a lot to earn that amount of money. She is one of the best NBA players in the league, right?

I don't feel bad for Kobe Bryant at all. If he would've kept it in his pants and gotten a prenup, then he wouldn't have to pay Vanessa Bryant half of anything and possibly lifetime spousal support. If Vanessa Bryant was the greater earning spouse and had no prenup, then should would probably have to pay him the same thing. I for one hope she doesn't take him back because she will only be teaching her daughters that it's okay for a man to cheat on you and disrespect you.

$75 million Vanessa Bryant will get is a "windfall" - it's unearned and undeserved. The article uses the word "windfall" in a way we average readers use it. We're not lawyers, we're people.

Do you suppose the 10 year wait to file for divorce was just a coincidence or could it possibly be she just followed legal advice regarding the statutory definition of 'long term' marriage; i.e. eligible for life time spousal support?
That said, she deserves everything she gets from the philandering jerk.

Ms. Wilson is getting tied up in semantics. The dictionary's definition of "windfall" is irrelevant. This is like getting upset at someone for calling a tomato a vegetable when, technically speaking, a tomato is a fruit. The fact of the matter is that Kobe Bryant earned $150M playing sports and endorsing products during the prime of his career, and Vanessa Bryant was married to him during that time. Legally speaking she may be entitled to half of that, but you really have to get tied up in semantic knots to make the point that she "earned" half of that money by being married to him. Split hairs over legal parlance if you want, but the fact of the matter is that Kobe *earned* $150M, and Vanessa *gets* half of it. This is a windfall.

Even by the writers definition, or assumed definition it is a windfall...
Consider...Vanessa has caretakers and housekeepers as has already been established by her reported/reputed abuse of same and settlement with...She has every imaginable luxery no doubt that comes with her lifestyle and husbands income.
Now consider that most women care for their own cleaning, childcare, cooking, domestic chores and family care in every way. To say that she deserves whatever millions she gets when she does nothing by way of what mos women do in a family and marriege setting is to say that all those women who do those 'normal' things are grossly undervalued and underappreciated since they do not also get 'missions' either during or after their marriages...
Lame article really when all things are considered.
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.
... ':o)

What is sexist is that she is entitled to half of everything. Maybe windfall is not the correct term, but she was not the bread winner. Is she entitled to a fair divorce settlement? Sure. But what is fair and reasonable for just an 11 year marriage can be open to interpretation. She is young and able to work and get a job in this world of equality and it is high time that that reality should have a cap for the young and able, regardless if male or female and whether or not their existed a pre-nup.

Please sign this petition to help our kids.

http://www.change.org/petitions/federal-and-state-laws-to-bring-back-dads-into-kids-lives-reform-federal-state-laws-to-bring-back-dads

Peter G. Hill: you are an idiot! of course she is entitled to this $, in part because the law already said it is hers (community property) but even without the law, its the right thing to do.

I know plenty of folks whose wives made more $ than their husbands did..before they had children and they were both working full time jobs in their chosen careers.

HOWEVER ... since men can't deliver babies and breastfeed, it's the WIFE who takes off work for the child-bearing years. If you're a loving mother and want your children raised by their mother and/or father (instead of a low-paid non-family Nanny or Day-Care Facility) then that equates to at least 16 years of being off the job market...if you only have one kid! I choose 16 years because that's when kids can drive themselves around...but I'm staying home until my last kid is off to college. They need parents around for longer than the 6 weeks the company gives you "off" for maternity leave.

Now here is the question for you: Ever try to get back into the work force after not being paid for your career-work for 16 (or more!) years? Yeah, right. I see plenty of people (men and women) who have been laid off and unemployed for only MONTHS and nobody wants to offer them employment. Try being out of the workforce for 16 years and see how quickly you get laughed out of HR...

Even if she had never worked...the assumption in most marriages when the wife stays home is that HOME and CHILD development is her contribution...while income-generation is HIS contribution. By keeping her pants ON and keeping things moving on the home-front with the children, she satisfied her part of the "bargain" while he obviously did not (messed up in the faithful part!)
How can you say that she can "get a job" now to support herself? What kind of job could she get? what would it pay? Why should HE continue with his lavish lifestyle that they both had...when HE was the one who messed up?

This article is good, but it doesn't go far enough.

"The Times' dictionary of record, Webster's New World College Dictionary, 4th Edition, defines a windfall as "any unexpected acquisition, gain, or stroke of good luck." It doesn’t suggest that a windfall is something undeserved. However, the definition of surprise or luck doesn't square with the usage in the article. A community-property settlement isn't lucky -- it's the law."

The dictionary definition of acquisition or gain also does not align with the situation - these are assets that *already* belong to Mrs. Bryant and Mr. Bryant equally. The divorce simply means that they must be split instead of shared.

Semantics are not just important, LATimes - they are your stock in trade!

(And the "windfall" characterization deserves an apology. Stating '"windfall" wasn't the right word' isn't quite an apology.)

I don't agree with the community property law and I despise the notion of spousal support. I think these are issues that need to be litigated or taken care of with a pre-nuptial. If one spouse has accumulated a fortune and the other spouse has earned little or nothing, how is it just that the financially unproductive spouse is suddenly entitled to 1/2 the estate.

I think legislatures pass these laws at the behest of judges who don't want to deal with these issues.

Who's Kobe gonna kiss for the cameras now?

He made $150 million for playing a child's game and she actually raised children. If there's anyone who's getting a "windfall", it's him.

Why did the Times let itself get so wrung up over one reader --- who obviously has a chip on her shoulder, and probably thinks the NBA is sexist for not having women players --- decrying "windfall" as sexist?

She probably thinks the WNBA is sexist for not paying its players NBA salaries. God, please don't let this woman sit next to me on a long train or plane ride.

If Vanessa Bryant "earned" $75 mil by raising their children, then mothers all across the world should be getting that kind of money, regardless of what their husband earned on their JOBS.

Kobe Bryant makes that kind of money because few people in the world can do what he does, and millions are willing to pay to watch him do it. Nobody's paying her Kobe-type money to be a gold-digging mommy. It's because of the Vanessa Bryants of the world that we have prenuptial agreements.

I wonder if the IRS will consider it a windfall. That's the only definition that counts.

Why argue over anything here? They are both super-wealthy. She is probably as self-centered as he is. I feel sorry for the kids. He's smiling because now he can get all the girls he wants. She's smiling because it only took 10 years, living as one of the queens of the NBA. I wish I had their troubles.

Obviously it's not a windfall to receive $75 million when you divorce your husband. A windfall is what happens when a teacher or some other worker has worked in a non-Social Security job and also has worked enough in a Social Security job to earn an annuity from the first job and to qualify for a Social Security annuity too. Luckily, the possibility of actually receiving such a windfall is blocked by the Windfall Elimination Provision of the US Code, which says that when you retire under those circumstances, you get bupkis for all the years you paid into Social Security.

It will be a windfall for Vanessa Bryant, just as it was for Guy Ritchie and Kevin Federline. Nothing sexist about it.

Pam Wilson is 100% correct in calling out the LA Times on this. The LA Times doesn't understand the connotations of "windfall" when used in the context of a divorce settlement? LOL So at what point do you we acknowledge that journalism is dead? You're damn right the LA Times used this pejorative word on their own. You're mealy mouth parsing of the dictionary notwithstanding, you should try understanding the words that you put in print.

Vanessa Bryant didn't "earn" the $75 million. She is entitled to it under our legal system. Since we are on the subject of semantics, it is important to note that there is a significant difference between the two words. For those of you who don't know, the definitions can be found at www.merriam-webster.com.

Vanessa Bryant may not "deserve" $75 million for being a wife, but Kobe doesn't deserve it either.

Putting a ball through a hoop is a silly, frivilous activity, and does nothing to advance society. There is no possible way that tossing a ball through a hoop truly "deserves" $150 million, in any actual moral sense.

Neither Kobe or Vanessa have accomplished anything worthwhile. The word "deserve" doesn't apply to either of them.

Yawn. At the end of the day, none of us mere mortals are ever going to see anything close to $75 or $150 million, windfall or not. This town us full of women (and men) who are looking for a free ride. They carry on about equality, but many feel it's up to the man in a relationship to be the provider, while the woman pursues her interests. Then if and when there is a divorce, the non-providers want to be taken care of for the rest of their lives. Why? If there are children involved, then the claim is valid. But if they're adults without the burden of kids to raise, give me a break. Go get a job.

It's very lonely at the top, whether you're shooting a ball through a hoop to the delight of millions, or a leading actor with a large following. Crazy people chase you down, send disconcerting gifts, threats - ugh. Hardly a fun way to live.

These celebrities live in another world, and by another set of rules. I feel sorry for them. These comments, meanwhile, are just noise.

Lifetime spousal support? Seriously. Once the no-fault divorce came in to law there is absolutely no reason for well paid man or woman to get married without an iron glad pre-nuptial agreement.

I think this one is done because neither of them can trust the other. It is going to take a huge time out, major commitment and lots of therapy to save this one.

The term "windfall" is accurate, as she has not done anything to earn a paycheck on her own, since being a dancer at age 17.

However, California law is clear that the earnings go to the community, so she is legally entitled to half, without a pre- or post - nuptial agreement.

I know it's the law, but I've always found the whole community property concept ridiculous. The original point of the whole thing is that in many marriages, one partner may give up opportunities to be supportive of the other spouse's career. In this case, Mrs. Bryant could argue that she gave up her career as a backup dancer to marry him, support him, and bear his children. But that, in my opinion, is not worth 75 million dollars. She could also argue that her support lead him to generate the 150 million dollar fortune- but, again, that argument wouldn't hold water. The bottom line is, with or without Vanessa, Kobe would be worth about the same amount of money now, and perhaps even more (we don't know her spending habits). I think they should calculate the maximum possible amount of money she would have earned on her own, give that to her, and then, of course, child support. If you go back, and say she became a moderately successful backup dancer, worked for 10 years (a stretch in that industry), that would be worth what- 1-2 million? Even throw some in for her forgoing college and a possible career, that might be worth another 250-500K. Finally, throw in some more money for her putting up with him for 10 years- another 500K -1M? So all in all, she honestly deserves, at most, 3.5M? Instead, she gets to walk away with HALF of a very talented ball player's income from the last 10 years- for what? Spending time with him (and his money), having two kids she loves with him, and sleeping with him? Even the most expensive call girls wouldn't cost you 75 million for 10 years (Gov. Spitzer's lady was 3K a night x 365 [a stretch- they weren't together every night] x 10 years is less than 11 million).

Any one complaining on here about her getting half for doing nothing and for no reason ever have a baby? Yeah I thought not?

I'm surprised Kobe is only worth $150 million. Really? Including endorsements?

I agree!

Let's see what windfall kris gets from Kim kardashian!

Thanks for this. Divorce laws include settlements and alimony for a reason. Spouses do serve a number of supportive roles that serve to further the careers of the other spouse.

For instance, my husband is working full-time while I go through my Ph.D.; if I were to get the doctorate and then divorce him, he should absolutely be entitled to some recompense for the sacrifices he made on my behalf.

It's the law for a reason.

This lady is nuts, of course Vanessa Bryant is getting a windfall. Everything said in these politcally correct times are belived to be either sexist or racist. She would never have made 75 million in her lifetime with out marrying Kobe Bryant or some other rich guy. That fact that the California laws entitle her to to half of the money does not change the fact that its a windfall for her. That's not a sexist statement its a factual one.


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