The lack of a prenup was good for Jessica Simpson, but bad for Nick Lachey.

He was flying high in the boy band 98 Degrees when they wed in October 2002, and the reality TV show Newlyweds turned the couple into superstars.

But they split in 2005 amid allegations of his cheating and career jealousies – his was faltering, hers was skyrocketing. Jess, 28, earned $32 million that year with her acting, singing, commercial endorsements and fragrance and fashion lines.

Instead of opting for California’s customary 50/50 split, financially strapped Nick, 35, took a quick $10 million settlement before the divorce was final in mid-2006.

"In California, where there is no-fault divorce, one party can sit and do nothing during the marriage, and if the other spouse is making a bundle of money, it’s split in half at the time of the divorce," maintained Beverly Hills celebrity divorce attorney Steven Stolar.

Nick could have hit the divorce jackpot "by making it known that Jessica had fooled around during the marriage as well," said an insider.

"But he settled for $10 million because he was about to lose a house and needed the money."