'Divorce Wars' On CNBC: A Look At Millionaires' Messy Divorces

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Buzz, Self

New TV documentary shows high-profile, high-stake divorces but offers a lesson we all should heed.

If you had a 33 percent chance of crashing every time you drove a car, would you still get behind the wheel? What if there were a 1 in 3 chance of burning your house down every time you lit a match?

Today, millions of people still take the risk of having their home come down around them in a different sense entirely when they enter the institution of marriage. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1 in 3 first marriages will ultimately end in divorce. For some couples this means they've put not only their hearts but millions of dollars at stake. 

On Tuesday, March 29th at 9PM ET/PT, CNBC presents Divorce Wars, a documentary that explores multi-million dollar divorces through the eyes of several wealthy couples enduring excruciating divorce proceedings. In the CNBC original, correspondent Melissa Francis goes inside the bitter proceedings and explores the couples' engagement in a struggle for power, control, money and, ultimately, revenge. Included in the hour long documentary is the highly-publicized divorce of Justine and Elon Musk, co-creator of Paypal and CEO of Tesla Motors, along with the story of a divorcee who fought an 18-year battle to turn a $750,000 settlement into an eventual $15 million. Divorce lawyers specializing in high net-worth cases weigh in on what it takes to win "on the battlefield of emotional pain and financial gain." New Business: Let Me Fund Your Divorce! (For A Cut Of Winnings)

Punctuating the messy divorce proceedings are interviews with the divorce lawyers suggesting various protections to viewers before entering the institution of marriage, and what not to do if facing an imminent divorce. For example:

  • Attorney Karen Stegler suggests performing a "background check" on your partner before you marry, hinting that "if somebody has been married 3 or 4 times, those are not good indicators of longevity in a marriage."
  • Forensic accountant Marie Ebersbacher explains that hiding assets is never a good idea, claiming that the search for said assets will only rack up more billable hours to the divorce attorneys on both sides, and if you're the "money spouse," you will likely be responsible for the fees accrued.
  • Finally, attorney Raoul Felder addresses what could be the least favorite topic of hopeless romantics looking for their happily ever after: the prenuptial agreement. "Sure, it's unromantic," Felder explains, "but the height of unromanticism is divorce." Stegler adds "I'm not putting love aside, only saying 'you love this person, but now let's look at what reality is, because reality is going to hit: two years, five years, ten years down the road.'"

While the high net-worth divorce cases may seem a little beyond our realm of comprehension ("those people want how much money?!"), Divorce Wars inevitably beholds lessons that none of us who tread into relationship are exempt from. The number one lesson from the documentary seems to be: if one believes in the institution of marriage, one must at least acknowledge the institution of divorce, lest your own fairy tale come to an undesirable end. In Divorce, Who Gets The Farmville Assets?

Along with its original airing on Tuesday, March 29th at 9 PM ET/PT, CNBC’s Divorce Wars will re-air on Tuesday, March 29th at 10 PM ET/PT, Thursday, March 31st at 8PM ET and Sunday, April 3rd at 11PM ET.