April 17, 2009— -- Kate Walsh is hoping to avoid joining the ranks of other well-heeled celebrity women who've had to pay their ex-husbands after their divorces were final.
According to E! online, the star of the ABC show "Private Practice" has taken the pre-emptive measure of filing legal papers in an attempt to stop the court from awarding alimony to her estranged husband, film producer Alex Young, in their ongoing divorce battle.
Walsh and Young were married in September 2007. By last December, a short 15 months later, their marriage was over. Young filed for divorce citing irreconcilable differences. Walsh counter-sued two weeks later, claiming the relationship actually ended five days before Young said.
Perhaps Walsh has seen what's happened in recent years to other successful celebrity women, like Madonna, Britney Spears and Anne Heche, when they filed for divorce. In all three cases, the women not only earned more money than their former spouses but they ended up supporting their ex's after they split.
"Why should it be any different for women than it should be for men?" L.A.-based divorce attorney William Glucksman told ABCNews.com.
With women, in both the celebrity and business worlds, earning more and an evolution in matrimonial law to create more parity, Glucksman says women who pay spousal support are becoming more common.
Similarly, there's been an increase in women paying child support. More than half of divorce lawyers surveyed by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers last year cited an increase in the number of mothers assigned to make child support payments over the past five years.
"It's an outgrowth of many years of elimination of gender bias in matrimonial law," Glucksman said about the increased liability of women in divorces today. Slower to change has been the public's attitude about women paying in a divorce. "It's taken longer for people's philosophies and expectations to change," Glucksman said.
That includes men. "Many husbands whose philosophies or emotions are rooted in the more traditional or old world thinking don't want to ask for alimony," he said. "But I think it's incumbent upon attorneys or counsel to level the playing field. They have just as much right as a woman does. They shouldn't feel bad."
They are in good company. ABCNews.com takes a look at several high-profile divorces where the woman ended up paying alimony or "gal-imony."
The Material Girl's reported $76-$96 million settlement with ex Guy Ritchie was considered a record payout, let alone one by a woman.
Even her publicist Liz Rosenberg acknowledged its significance. "I'd assume it's one of the largest payouts ever in a divorce settlement," Rosenberg told the AP.Not long after, Madonna and Ritchie issued their own statement refuting the settlement amount.
"We have tried to maintain a dignified silence regarding the details of our divorce for the last few months whilst accepting the obvious media interest. A misleading and inaccurate statement, specifically in relation to the sums of money involved, was wrongly issued ... this week," their statement read. "The financial details of the settlement will remain private, save to say that both of us are happy with our agreement."
It's probably safe to add that Ritchie was likely happier with his end of the deal, since Madonna was the one paying.
Alley's 1997 divorce from ex-husband Parker Stevenson became fodder for the tabloids when Stevenson sued for spousal support.
Alley was at the height of her career playing Ted Danson's love interest on "Cheers," when she split from her husband of 14 years, Stevenson of "Hardy Boys" and "Baywatch" fame.
In documents that leaked to the press, Stevenson detailed their lavish lifestyle, which included multiple residences with full-time staffs of housekeepers, chefs and nannies; exotic animals for pets, children's birthday parties with marching bands and lavish gifts of Ferraris and sailboats.
In one filing, Stevenson asked for "sufficient support" to "maintain a lifestyle commensurate to that which Kirstie and I had enjoyed during our marriage," including $18,000 a month to pay rent on a home in Bel Air.
Though Stevenson had once enjoyed the spotlight, he claimed that his earnings were only a fraction of what Alley earned and he did not expect to ever approach her income.
Ultimately, he settled for a one-time payout of $6 million, according to Forbes.com.
Heche's divorce from Coley Laffoon was not pretty. In the press, she called him a deadbeat dad to their son Homer, now 6. In court papers, he called her crazy, referring to her 2001 autobiography titled "Call Me Crazy."
Heche, who had once been linked to Ellen DeGeneres, married Laffoon, a video photographer in 2002. Laffoon claimed in legal papers that he quit his job to stay home and take care of Homer while Heche was shooting the ABC series "Men in Trees" in Vancouver.
When the marriage broke up five years later, Laffoon sought at least $33,000 a month in spousal support and custody of Homer, claiming that Heche was a poor parent with "bizarre and delusional behavior," according to a court filing obtained by People magazine.
Heche shot back in a statement released to the press: "For the past several years, the child's father has refused to get a job in order to contribute financially to the child's care."
The case was finally settled earlier this year. In lieu of alimony, Heche was ordered to pay Laffoon a lump sum of $275,000 along with $3,700 a month in child support, according to The Associated Press.
Jackson was able to keep her 1991 marriage to longtime collaborator Rene Elizondo completely hush-hush until Elizondo filed for divorce in June 2000. "I hope my fans will understand that I tried to keep my marriage private in an effort to have a normal family life. I wish Rene only the best going forward," Jackson said in a statement to Jet magazine at the time.
Elizondo, who co-wrote 37 of Jackson's biggest hits, including "Rhythm Nation" and "That's the Way Love Goes," was obviously hoping for more than Jackson's best wishes. Challenging the validity of his prenuptial agreement, he sued Jackson for a reported $25 million in support.
After a two-year legal battle, the couple quietly settled. According to US Weekly, Elizondo received $15 million, the couple's Mercedes and their five-bedroom Malibu beachfront home.
When Spears ended her brief two-year marriage to rapper-dancer Kevin Federline in November 2006, she seemed to have the upper hand. There was a reported prenuptial agreement in place and she had custody of the couple's two boys Preston and Jayden.
Then Spears' world began to unravel, following a widely publicized hair-shaving incident and two stints in rehab. By March 2007, when a settlement was reached, it was reported that Federline had received anywhere from the $1 million stipulated in his prenup to $19 million.
By then, Federline was embroiled in a custody battle with Spears, who only had visitation rights to see their children. Last July she gave up her custody fight but has since gained more visiting time with the boys. At the same time, her child support payments to Federline increased by $5,000 to $20,000 a month.
Spears was also on the hook for Federline's legal fees at the tune of nearly half a million dollars.