Messy Divorces That Left Celebs Nearly Penniless

Divorces can certainly be costly, and the expense tends to escalate significantly whenever a celebrity is involved. In fact, the rule of thumb tends to be: the bigger the star, the costlier the divorce.

Take for example Mel Gibson and his divorce from his wife of 28 years, Robyn Gibson. Back in 2009, their split was thought to be the "most expensive divorce in Hollywood history," according to People. At the time, Mel's net worth was estimated at close to $1 billion, and he and Robin did not have a prenuptial agreement in place. Additionally, they lived in California, which entitled Mel's ex-wife to half of everything he owned, sliced right down the middle. 

While Gibson landed on his feet — apparently managing to get by on a paltry half-billion bucks — not all celebs have been fortunate enough to have dollars left over after paying off a hefty divorce settlement. Sometimes, these stars are left in pretty dire financial circumstances, often pretty close to flat broke — proving that old adage often repeated in tabloids: celebrities really are just like us ... at least when it comes to divorce. 

Dennis Rodman faced jail time when he couldn't afford his child support payments

Dennis Rodman raked in some big bucks when he played for the NBA, with career earnings exceeding $26 million before he retired from basketball in 2000. Rodman has been divorced three times. His first marriage to Annie Blakes ended in 1993 after just one year. Then, in 1998 he wed "Baywatch" alum Carmen Electra, with that marriage also ending after a year. His third marriage, to Michelle Moyer in 2003, lasted — wait for it — just one year; however, the couple's divorce wasn't finalized until nearly a decade later, in 2012.

As part of his final divorce, Rodman was ordered to shell out $860,376 in unpaid child support for the exes' two children, as well as spousal support payments, the Los Angeles Times reported. Rodman, however, was unable to pay. "In all honesty, Dennis, although a very sweet person, is an alcoholic," Rodman's financial adviser, Peggy Williams, admitted to the L.A. Times, adding, "His sickness impacts his ability to get work." This placed Rodman in quite a conundrum — if he didn't pay up, he'd be found in contempt of court, which could result in a 20-day jail sentence.

Rodman narrowly avoided being placed behind bars when he was instead sentenced to 104 hours of community service. "It's all about the kids," Rodman told reporters after the hearing, as reported by the Orange County Register. "It does suck the fact that it had to come to this."

Brandi Glanville was in dire financial straits after her divorce from Eddie Cibrian

Prior to going on to reality show fame via "The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills," Brandi Glanville made headlines following her high-profile divorce from actor Eddie Cibrian — sparked by his extramarital affair with co-star (and now wife) LeAnn Rimes.

Not only were the circumstances surrounding the divorce emotionally devastating, Glanville also took a big financial hit. As she told the New York Post in 2012, she ended the marriage with no income and no credit. "I was a 36-year-old woman who couldn't lease a car and couldn't lease a house," she explained. "For 13 years, my name wasn't on one account. I am still building my credit." When she finally found a place to rent, she had to pay an entire year's worth in advance and needed her father to co-sign on the lease. And while some may have assumed she would have walked away with something from the divorce settlement, she actually received very little. "We were living way above our means, in a 10,000-square-foot house," she said. "There wasn't a lot to get, honestly."

At the time, Glanville had just joined the "Real Housewives" franchise and made no bones about the fact that the only reason she was venturing into the world of reality TV was for the money. "I joke that I whore myself out to anyone that will pay me," she admitted. "But that is kind of what is happening."

It took Burt Reynolds more than 20 years to pay off his divorce settlement

Burt Reynolds was in several high-profile relationships with famous women, including Dinah Shore, Sally Field, and "Laugh-In" star Judy Carne, to whom he was briefly married from 1963 to 1965. His second marriage, to "WKRP in Cincinnati" star Loni Anderson, was similarly brief, lasting from 1988 until Reynolds filed for divorce just five years later. The split quickly grew ugly and very public, with accusations of infidelity on both sides, and Reynolds' claim that they hadn't had sex in years. 

The exes battled in court, which took a heavy toll on Reynolds' finances. In a 1994 Los Angeles Times report about their custody battle, Reynolds testified to experiencing "cash flow problems," and was behind in loan payments. At that point, Reynolds' accountant claimed that Reynolds had spent more than $2 million on the divorce, and was paying approximately $47,000 each month in expenses related to those legal proceedings.

By 1996, the divorce — combined with a dwindling movie career and a series of disastrous investments — had left Reynolds insolvent. He filed for bankruptcy. "I have a lot of pride and filing Chapter 11 tears me apart," he told The Washington Post at the time. Nearly a decade later, Reynolds still owed Anderson nearly $100,000 from the divorce. In 2015, some 22 years after filing for divorce, he finally paid it off  — along with an additional $50,000 or so in interest that had accumulated. He died three years later at age 82.

Mike Tyson's second divorce contributed to his financial ruin

Mike Tyson has been married three times — first to actor Robin Givens (from 1988 to 1999), then to Monica Turner (1997 to 2003), and finally to Lakiha Spicer, with whom he tied the knot in 2009. As The Washington Post reported, Tyson handed over $6.5 million and a 61-room, $4-million Connecticut mansion to Turner in their divorce settlement. Tyson was also heavily in debt — to the tune of $18 million — after allegedly squandering more than $140 million on such frivolous expenses as sports cars, a pet tiger, and carrier pigeons.

By August 2003, Tyson's debt had grown to $23 million when he finally declared bankruptcy. ”I have been in financial distress since 1998, when I was burdened with substantial debt to Showtime, taxing authorities and parties to litigation," he wrote in his affidavit, as reported by The New York Times. "Since that time, although my fight income, various asset sales and litigation recoveries have enabled me to pay a lot of my debt, I am still unable to pay my bills.”

Tyson subsequently rebounded with lucrative book deals, TV and movie roles (including "The Hangover"), and entering the cannabis business, with the latter reportedly earning him a cool $1 million per month. Appearing on Fox Business, Tyson revealed that going bankrupt taught him that if he could become wealthy once, he'd be able to do it again. "I could continue to do it over and over again. And that's what bankruptcy taught me," he explained.

Real Housewife Sonja Morgan was nearly forced to sell her house when her ex-husband refused to pay up

Sonja Morgan is no stranger to aficionados of "The Real Housewives of New York City," on which she was a fan favorite for more than a decade. When she and her wealthy husband, John Adams Morgan, divorced in 2008, she was awarded a lump-sum settlement of $3 million

However, in 2011 she took her ex to court, claiming that he never paid her that money — and he also owed about $300,000 in alimony payments. "I'm sure the world thinks, 'Sonja doesn't have to worry, she's got that husband there for her.' But I'm on my own," Morgan told the New York Post, admitting she was on the brink of putting her $6-million New York City townhouse on the market. Making matters even worse was the fact that she'd filed for bankruptcy in 2010 due to the several million dollars she owed a production company over a movie deal she'd entered that was never made. 

Eventually, Sonja was able to put it all behind her when she completed paying down $9 million in debt in 2019. "It feels great. I did a great job. I paid what I had to pay and it wasn't easy, but at the same time it was an experience," she told E! News at the time. "It's nice to be free of everyone looking at my money. I finally have my financial privacy back." 

Tisha Campbell had 'nothing in the bank' after her divorce

Tisha Campbell has starred in several long-running TV hits, including "Martin," "My Wife and Kids," and "Dr. Ken." While all that success would seemingly equate to a hefty fortune, that wasn't the case when she and then-husband Duane Martin filed for bankruptcy in 2016. According to court documents obtained by the Daily Mail, their joint monthly income at the time was just $7,655, while their expenses were more than double that amount. Meanwhile, they listed about $300,000 in assets while carrying a $15-million debt load. "We got involved with some loans before the crash, couldn't agree to a settlement with the banks, so we filed to reorganize," the spouses said in a joint statement to E! News.

Just two years later, they split up, with the divorce finalized in 2020. Not only did the divorce drain Campbell emotionally, but she also found herself rebuilding her life from scratch. "No one knows that, but I had nothing. Nothing in the bank," she divulged, wiping away tears during an interview with ET. "I had maybe seven dollars to my name. And I was scared," she added.

In a 2020 appearance on "Ebro in the Morning," Campbell credited her faith for pulling her through such a dark period in her life. "I never understood really what faith was until I felt like I was at absolute zero," she said.

Tina Turner's divorce brought freedom — and left her flat broke

The fraught relationship between Tina Turner and ex-husband Ike Turner has been well documented in her book, "What's Love Got to Do With It?" along with the big-screen biopic and stage musical that it spawned. When she finally worked up the courage to leave the abusive relationship in 1976, she exited both their marriage and their showbiz partnership empty-handed. "The divorce, I got nothing. No money, no house," Turner — who died in 2023 at age 83 — said in the documentary, "Tina." "So I said, 'I'll just take my name.'"

Those were rough years for Turner, then in her mid-40s while attempting to relaunch her career as a solo artist. Adding to her woes was the fact that several promoters sued over an Ike & Tina Turner tour that had been scheduled prior to the divorce. She was forced to pay half of what they were awarded in those lawsuits. She survived on food stamps, whatever club gigs she could muster up, and the kindness of friends who let her stay with them. 

Slowly but surely, she climbed her way back up the ladder, eventually signing to Capitol as a solo artist in 1979. It took a few more years, but in 1984 she released the album that changed everything, "Private Dancer," which took her to a whole new echelon of fame that far exceeded anything she'd achieved with her ex-husband. 

Porsha Williams received next to nothing in her divorce settlement

It wasn't long after Porsha Williams joined "The Real Housewives of Atlanta" in 2012 that she and husband Kordell Stewart split up. In March 2013, TMZ reported that Stewart filed for divorce less than two years after their wedding. And Stewart was insistent that he shouldn't be on the hook for any alimony. "[She's] an able-bodied person, earning income and is capable of supporting herself," Stewart's filing stated.

Meanwhile, Williams said that she'd been taken by surprise, claiming that they had agreed to work through their marital problems. She then discovered he'd filed for divorce via media reports. "[Kordell] misled her and she found out about the filing in the media," her rep told TMZ. After the dust settled, TMZ obtained the divorce settlement, confirming Williams walked away from the marriage with pretty much nothing other than personal effects and her engagement ring. 

The reason she received nothing in the divorce, Williams explained during an appearance on the now-defunct talk show "Bethenny," was because she just wanted to put the whole thing behind her. "I didn't ask for anything," Williams said. "Right now in the press, it's, 'Oh, Porsha didn't get anything. Poor Porsha.' And people are feeling sorry for me because I didn't get anything and they think that we went to trial and I lost. I didn't go to trial — I chose not to go to court. So there was no judgment."

Boxer Evander Holyfield's home was in foreclosure after multiple divorces

Heavyweight champ Evander Holyfield was one of the world's most elite and wealthiest athletes, earning an estimated $230 million during his career. Much of his income, however, was reduced through multiple divorces. His first marriage, to Paulette Powen, ended in 1991 amid accusations of infidelity, and he reportedly paid her $4 million in the divorce. His second marital union, to Janice Itson, concluded in 1999, after he confessed that he'd fathered two children out of wedlock during their brief marriage. Terms of the settlement weren't made public, but Holyfield's net worth at the time was estimated at about $90 million, and she likely received a healthy chunk of that.

He was then married Candi Calvana Smith, with their divorce finalized in 2012, two years after she'd filed. By that point in time, there wasn't much left for the couple to fight over, according to CNBC. In 2008, Holyfield had become so cash-strapped that he lost his $10-million mansion to foreclosure. Meanwhile, the mother of one of his children was suing over missed child support payments, while he was also being sued over a $550,000 loan that was in arrears, taken to cover the costs of landscaping. 

In 2012, the year his third divorce was finalized, Holyfield tried to raise money by auctioning off memorabilia. A decade later, in 2022, he and onetime ring rival Mike Tyson teamed up to form Carma Holdings, with plans for Holyfield to launch his own line of cannabis edibles. 

According to Brendan Fraser, his divorce left him over $87,000 in debt each month

In 2009, Brendan Fraser and his wife Afton Smith announced they were divorcing after nine years of marriage. When their divorce was settled, Fraser agreed to pay his ex $50,000 per month in alimony, in addition to another $25,000 a month in child support for their three children — a combined sum of $900,000 per year.

Fast forward to 2013, when Fraser's Hollywood career had hit one of those periodic dips that actors sometimes experience. As TMZ reported, Fraser sought to have a judge reduce those payments, demonstrating that his expenses outpaced his income by a whopping $87,320.01 each month, leaving him more than a million bucks in the hole each year. Smith, however, responded with a legal filing of her own, claiming that Fraser could easily afford to honor his obligations, pointing to his estimated net worth of $25 million. She also highlighted a provision in the initial agreement that would allow his payments to be reduced — but only if his income dropped to below $3 million a year, something she insisted had yet to occur. She also accused him of fraud, claiming that he'd hid $9 million in film contracts at the time their divorce was finalized.

While the court ruled against Fraser's request for alimony reduction, it also shot down his ex's fraud allegation. Fraser was required to make those monthly payments for a total of 10 years, so presumably, he's breathing easier these days.

Steve Harvey's bank account was drained after divorce and back taxes

Steve Harvey is arguably one of the hardest working guys in showbiz, having hosted talk shows, game shows, beauty pageants, and the like, while remaining a big draw as a standup comic. While his current net worth is estimated at $200 million, he's had to climb back after an expensive divorce left him pretty much destitute.

Harvey explained what happened during an appearance on Shannon Sharpe's "Club Shay Shay" podcast, detailing how he wound up flat broke after his massively successful Kings of Comedy tour raked in more than $30 million. When Sharpe questioned Harvey about how he ended up with nearly nothing afterward, Harvey explained, "It's called a divorce." He continued, saying, "I got jumped on, but it was even before the divorce."

As Harvey recalled, he'd regularly been writing checks to pay taxes, with the amounts drawn out of his account. It wasn't until his accountant died that Harvey realized that individual had been pocketing the money, leaving the taxes unpaid. In some particularly inconvenient timing, that revelation came shortly after his divorce had been settled. "The divorce was over. It was just, 'Let's split the assets, but you took all the assets,' and I was stuck with this tax bill," he said. "So, I had to pay seven years of back taxes with interest."

That left Harvey in a deep hole that he had to dig out of. "I was in a world of trouble, man," Harvey continued. "When I looked up, I had $1,700."