Enough already with calling it “his” fortune

I’m tired of reading newspaper stories saying that Mel Gibson is set “to lose half of his estimated $1 billion fortune in the divorce.”

He ain’t losing anything because it’s not his fortune. It’s Mel Gibson and Robyn Gibson’s fortune, accumulated during 28 years of marriage, during which she supported him when he was an unknown, penniless actor, and then reared their seven children. For sure it’s all gone wrong now, but it was a genuine partnership, and the assets of the partnership belong to both members.

You might just try arguing that Mel brought some special talents to the marriage, and therefore deserves a greater share of the matrimonial assets. But one of the reasons that Mel could charge ahead with a high flying acting career was that he could depend on his partner to rear their children, and keep their home running. As I’ve argued before:

When you invite someone to share your life, you invite them warts and all, and more importantly, you offer yourself, special talents and all. If it so happens that you earn a whacking great amount of money through your special talents, then that is part of what you bring to the marriage. And upon its dissolution, that’s what gets shared out. Of course, you get to keep your special talent – no one can take that off you. But in the period of your life when you were in a marriage, then whatever you earned through that special talent is part of the marriage. All the more so, if you could only deploy that special talent because your spouse supported you.

So stop with the talk about Mel Gibson losing half of “his” fortune.


7 responses to “Enough already with calling it “his” fortune

  1. Deborah, it’s actually true. Two ways to look at it: they have a joint fortune, and each will lose half of that in the divorce. Alternatively, Mel loses half his fortune, Robyn lose half of hers because all property is split in the divorce. While neither actually experiences a net change in fortune in the latter case, technically it’s true that each loses half.

    I’d be more inclined to believe that the above was what they meant if they even mentioned the loss Robyn is going to experience.

  2. Hear, hear!

    Just as he could earn a massive fortune because he could depend on her to do the unpaid work, she has had (by virtue of marrying him and raising their children) far fewer opportunities to make a fortune “of her own”. Furthermore, regardless of who earned the initial income, a massive fortune like that is also the result of investment, which involves decisions they are likely to have made together.

  3. It may be the socialist in me talking, but it’s not every *their* fortune, for crying out loud.

  4. Well said Deborah.

  5. Oh, but his loss is the greater.

    He’s lost a whole wife, whereas she has lost only half a husband.

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  7. well at least most of the Gibson kids are moved out; maybe this will minimize collateral damage from the divorce