A couple of weeks ago, singer Kelly Clarkson was ordered to pay her soon-to-be ex-husband Brandon Blackstock $150,000 per month of spousal support (alimony) and $45,601 in child support. Some people are criticizing this award and referring to it as “manimony.”
This order of the court is temporary, but will total over $2.3 million per year if it continues for the long term. Clarkson and Blackstock have two children together, ages 5 and 7. Blackstock initially requested $436,000 per month of support, so the temporary award is less than half that amount.
Why has Kelly been ordered to pay so much?
The biggest reason is probably Clarkson’s income. Court documents show that she makes $1.9 million per month. Blackstock doesn’t seem to make a whole lot of money. The courts look at the relative income of the parties, and want to make sure that the non-monied spouse is able to continue to live a lifestyle equivalent to that of the marriage. (That’s why a lifestyle analysis is often done in high net worth cases.) We look at the “marital standard of living” and do calculations to determine how much the spouses need after the divorce to continue this standard of living.In other words, the divorcing spouses should have homes of similar quality before and after divorce. They should be able to have cars and vacations like those they had before the separation and divorce. So if Kelly is the one bringing in all the money, she’ll have to pay Brandon so he can continue to live a similar lifestyle.
As for the child support: Kelly has primary physical placement of the children in Los Angeles, while Brandon lives in Montana and sees them when he travels to L.A. Why is she paying him if she has the kids most of the time?
A calculation is typically done regarding the relative parenting time each party has and their incomes. If the incomes are very disparate, the parent with less parenting time can still get child support. Why? The idea is that the children should have a relatively similar lifestyle or standard of living when at each parent’s house. The courts don’t want the children to live in the lap of luxury with one parent, while the other parent is scraping by in a tiny apartment. The different living situations could cause the children to want to stay only with the wealthy parent, and that’s not fair.
The court ordered support in Kelly Clarkson’s divorce is huge. But it’s not going to cause her any hardship. If she’s bringing in $1.9 million per month, she is paying only about 10% of her income to Brandon Blackstock. She’s going to be just fine, and he’s going to have enough to rent a residence of similar quality to her L.A. home.
What might be more interesting is the issue of the pre-nup. Kelly and Brandon had a premarital agreement, and he is challenging that in court. We don’t know what it says about spousal support or division of assets, but it’s a big deal because Kelly is worth a reported $45 million and makes so much money per month.