Britney Spears and husband Sam Asghari are headed for divorce after 14 months of marriage, and the pop megastar is turning to premiere Hollywood divorce lawyer Laura Wasser, a.k.a. the “Disso Queen,” to represent her in legal proceedings. If the name Laura Wasser doesn’t ring a bell, think of Laura Dern’s character in “Marriage Story” — Wasser inspired the role.
One could argue that Wasser’s success as an attorney was nearly inevitable. As the daughter of two Los Angeles attorneys,she was named Laura Allison Wasser so her initials would be L.A.W. She told The Times in 2014 that she was conceived the night her dad found out he had passed the bar exam.
She penned the how-to divorce guide “It Doesn’t Have to Be That Way,” published in 2013, and launched the DIY divorce app, “It’s Over Easy,” a five-step legal separation manual, and produced “All’s Fair,” a divorce podcast with episodes like “F– it. Get a Divorce!”
Wasser has repped A-listers including Kevin Costner, Angelina Jolie and Kim Kardashian in their high-profile splits, and she mediated the divorce of Jennifer Garner and Ben Affleck. This is also not the first time Wasser has represented Spears. In 2007, the lawyer actually resigned months after she’d been hired to help the pop star divorce her backup dancer-turned-husband Kevin Federline.
Here’s a closer look at Wasser’s roster of high-profile celebrity splits.
Joe Manganiello vs. Sofia Vergara
The dissolution of Joe Manganiello and Sofia Vergara’s nearly eight-year marriage went public last month. Manganiello is represented by Wasser, and legal documents obtained by The Times listed the date of separation as July 2. The filing also indicated that he and the “Modern Family” funny woman have a prenuptial agreement allowing them to each keep the respective assets they accumulated during their seven-year union.
The pair did not have any children together, which TMZ and People cited as a potential reason for the split: Manganiello reportedly wanted to have them and Vergara allegedly did not. She already has an adult son, Manolo Gonzalez Vergara, who was born when she was 18. She was also embroiled in a protracted custody battle over two embryos with her ex, Nick Loeb, that she won in 2021.
Armie Hammer vs. Elizabeth Chambers
The couple reportedly coordinated their divorce paperwork, with Chambers filing the petition in July 2020 and Hammer responding right away. Chambers demanded sole physical custody of their two children while Armie pleaded for joint custody. Hammer obtained the services of Wasser, but who’s to say whether the family lawyer knew about the alarming allegations that her client was about to face?
The couple shared the news of the split with identical Instagram posts reflecting on their 10 years of their marriage and an accompanying photo of the two smiling in a car. “As we enter into this next chapter, our children and relationship as co-parents and dear friends will remain our priority,” they wrote. “We understand this news lends itself to public dialogue, but in the interest of our children and our family, we’re asking for privacy, compassion and love during this time.” (Is the joint social media statement one of Wasser’s tactics for handling publicized divorces?)
The “irreconcilable differences” listed in the divorce petition were quickly thrust under a microscope when Hammer was accused of sexual abuse, rape and cannibalism after several women came forward and released text messages from Hammer that detailed violent sexual fantasies. The Los Angeles Police Department launched an investigation, which concluded in May 2023 with the L.A. County district attorney‘s office declining to prosecute Hammer after finding “insufficient evidence” to charge him with a crime.
Chambers told Elle magazine in February that she “always will” support Hammer. “All I’ve ever wanted is for him to be sober, healthy and happy. And he is that.”
Hammer and Chambers officially settled their divorce three years after filing in June 2023.
Angelina Jolie vs. Brad Pitt
Angelina Jolie filed for divorce from Brad Pitt after two years of marriage in September 2016, ending Brangelina. She requested sole physical custody and joint legal custody of their six children but indicated she is willing to give her husband visitation rights. And she ultimately hired Wasser to represent her.
Pitt and Jolie reached a divorce settlement privately in January 2017 after battling publicly for months over custody of the six kids they share. Various legal battles would ensue and by 2018 Jolie and Wasser reportedly went seperate ways. “Angelina has decided to change counsel to Samantha Bley Dejean, as Samantha’s expertise is the protection and best interest of children,” Mindy Nyby, a spokesperson for Jolie told People in August 2018. “Angelina appreciates Laura’s cooperation in transitioning the case over the past several weeks.”
Johnny Depp vs. Amber Heard
On May 23, 2016, Amber Heard filed for a divorce from “Pirates of the Caribbean” star Johnny Depp. Days later she applied for a restraining order. In Heard’s court filing, she claimed that during the “entirety of our relationship, Johnny has been verbally and physically abusive to me. I endured excessive emotional, verbal and physical abuse from Johnny, which has included angry, hostile, humiliating and threatening assaults to me whenever I questioned his authority or disagreed with him.”
Heard was granted a temporary restraining order May 27 against Depp after alleging that he had attacked her a week earlier, leaving her bruised and terrified, and saying that he’d been violent with her throughout their relationship. Depp’s legal team (cue Wasser) told the court in documents at the time that Heard “refuses to produce documents that supposedly support her allegations and she refuses to answer questions under oath … Amber has tried her claims in the media. It is now time for her to do so in a court of law.”
Wasser not only repped the embattled star during the couple’s divorce proceedings, but also became a witness during the defamation trial in 2020, when her deposition was played during the televised trial that had America glued to YouTube and TikTok.
Ben Affleck vs. Jennifer Garner
Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner announced their split in June 2015, shortly after their 10th anniversary.
“After much thought and careful consideration, we have made the difficult decision to divorce,” the couple said in a joint statement, which they said would be their final comment on the “private, family” matter. “We go forward with love and friendship for one another and a commitment to co-parenting our children whose privacy we ask to be respected during this difficult time. … Thank you for understanding.”
They hired Wasser to mediate their divorce, opting for an amicable dissolution rather than an acrimonious battle. “She has a talent for fostering empathy rather than enmity,” Affleck said of Wasser in an interview with the New York Times. “Once you get into a fight, I suspect everyone loses. She made that clear from the start.”
Kim Kardashian vs. Kanye West and Kris Humphries
Wasser represented Kim Kardashian during her divorce from Ye, formerly known as Kanye West. The couple married in May 2014 and separated at the end of 2020. Kardashian filed for divorce in February 2021. And while the divorce played out in court, a judge granted Kardashian’s request to be considered legally single and to drop “West” from her name.
The divorce proceedings, dubbed KimYe, were widely covered as they stretched over the last several years and were colored with controversy. As Ye went on various online tirades about Kardashian’s parenting decisions or attacks on Pete Davidson, who was dating Kardashian at the time, it was Wasser who was quick to call out his behavior of hashing out relationship conflicts online.
“There’s no reason that you need to come out publicly and make statements about somebody when you’re going through what should be a pretty private thing. I mean, ‘Hi, Kanye West,’” Wasser told Bustle in April 2022. “Forgetting my involvement with that, the whole world has watched [and thought] that’s probably not the best way to go about things, particularly as a parent.”
Months later, the two sides reached a divorce settlement deal which gave joint custody to Kardashian and Ye and allowed both to walk away with significant amounts of their multibillion-dollar assets.
Before there was KimYe, there was Kim K and Kris Humphries, the former NBA pro she married in a televised wedding that reportedly cost $10 million in August 2011. Their union famously lasted 72 days and Kardashian filed for divorce in October of the same year. Humphries countered Kardashian’s divorce filing by seeking an annulment, claiming fraud. Kardashian hired the famed family law attorney and the couple’s divorce (not annulment) was finalized in June 2013, the day after she had a baby shower gearing up to welcome her daughter North West.
In a 2019 Players’ Tribune essay, Humphries wrote something to the contrary to his claims of fraud stating, “Look, I should have known what I was getting into. I was definitely naive about how much my life was going to change. But the one thing that really bothers me is whenever people say that my marriage was fake. There’s definitely a lot about that world that is not entirely real. But our actual relationship was 100% real.”
Maria Shriver vs. Arnold Schwarzenegger
The action star’s marriage to award-winning news anchor Maria Shriver officially dissolved in late 2021, nearly a decade after she filed for divorce, hiring Wasser in July 2011 to represent her in the highly publicized split. Shriver made the move after 25 years of marriage and just a few months after Schwarzenegger wrapped up his second term as governor of California.
While a cause for the split wasn’t immediately revealed, it ultimately became public that the Governator had a fling in 1996 with Mildred Baena, the couple’s longtime housekeeper. The affair had been kept a secret for 13 years. Shriver finally confronted Baena after the housekeeper brought her son to work with her — and the boy had a striking resemblance to a certain Austrian-born bodybuilder. She filed for divorce two months after Schwarzenegger publicly admitted that he’d had a son outside of the marriage.
Britney Spears vs. Kevin Federline
The “Piece of Me” singer married the backup dancer in October 2004. They quickly had two children, but Spears hired Wasser when she filed for divorce in November 2006, just months after their second son was born. The divorce was finalized in July 2007.
Spears and Wasser parted ways in late 2007 in the midst of a contentious custody battle over their sons, Sean Preston and Jayden, when a Los Angeles judge ordered the pop star to undergo random drug testing. The judge also ordered Spears to attend counseling and both Spears and Federline to enroll in parenting classes. But as the custody battle raged on, Spears turned to Wasser again in 2008.
Times staff writer Nardine Saad contributed to this report.