Vanessa Bryant filed for divorce in Orange County Superior Court on Friday, December 16, 2011, citing "irreconcilable differences" in her marriage to Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant. The couple released a statement to the media later that day indicating that they will privately resolve all issues related to the divorce. Still, this is California, and when celebrities get divorced, discussion and speculation must run rampant. Their attempts to keep the details of their divorce private have not stopped various "legal experts" from offering up their own opinions on the couple's split and what sort of settlement they might reach.
Within days of their original report on the divorce filing, the Los Angeles Times weighed in with the conclusion of unnamed "legal experts" that Vanessa Bryant, as the spouse of a highly-paid professional basketball player, stood to receive a "windfall" in the division of the marital estate. The couple has been married for more than ten years, during which Vanessa Bryant has stood by her husband through scandals and a criminal charge of sexual assault in 2003. Kobe Bryant's overall net worth is estimated to be as much as $150 million, and the couple reportedly did not sign a pre-nuptial agreement when they married in 2001. Under California law, this could entitle Vanessa Bryant to half of the estate, or roughly $75 million. Times reporters Rick Rojas and Richard Winton described this sum as a "windfall" for Vanessa Bryant.
In a follow-up to this article, the Times' "reader Representative" Deirdre Edgar addressed a comment from a reader challenging the use of the word "windfall," suggesting it had sexist undertones with its implication that Vanessa Bryant was either not legally entitled to half the estate or was somehow undeserving. Edgar acknowledged that "windfall" was the wrong word to use in the context of this story, but disputed that it implies that the recipient of a windfall is undeserving. A windfall is commonly understood to be a surprise or a stroke of luck, whereas a divorce settlement is typically the result of, first, a lengthy marriage and, second, lengthy negotiations.