Child/Spousal Support Awards of the Rich and Famous, and You

Every time there’s a news story about the divorce/custody battles of rich people, the Twitterverse explodes, with people complaining like their own pockets just got hit.  Reports that Los Angeles Dodgers owner Frank McCourt will have to pay his estranged wife $637,000 in temporary spousal support sparked all kinds of outrage.  On Twitter, one man said, “I just don’t think you should get married if you can lose more than a 3rd world country in the divorce.”   Women, too, wondered if the prospect of going broke in divorce justifies delaying or avoiding marriage

Get a grip, people.

I’ve been married.  I’ve been divorced.  And I lost a whole lot of money in the process.  But the money didn’t go to my ex.  It went to our lawyers (both of whom I had to pay).  It went to the lawyers because instead of accepting a reasonable settlement offer, my ex went looking for one of those huge celebrity paydays and wound up with next to nothing. 

Anyone who is afraid to get married because of a celebrity divorce, or who expects their own divorce settlement will be like winning MegaMillions, is delusional.  The following facts may help you get over your fears or fantasies:

1. You’re probably not rich, and you’re probably not married to a rich person.  Accordingly, it’s unlikely you’d emerge from a divorce either super rich or financially devastated.  My marriage was coyote ugly, and I would have gnawed off an arm and a leg if that’s what it took to free myself.  Still, if we’d been able to settle, we both would have wound up better off.  Hopefully, your marriage won’t end in divorce, but if it does, divorce will cost a lot less, financially and emotionally, if neither party makes unreasonable and unrealistic demands.

2. Child support and spousal support are not the same.  Child support is awarded to help take care of the children’s needs.  Awards are made based on complex formulas that vary state-to-state, but that generally take each spouse’s then-current income and expenses into account.  The fact that Kelis may have sold a bunch of records 5 years ago is irrelevant to her current income and her child’s current needs.

3. Spousal support is where “big payback” fantasies go to die.  Spousal support is awarded to help take care of the needs of the spouse.  It is awarded most often in cases where a spouse has suspended his or her own career to support the career of the primary wage earner.  That’s probably not you.  If both spouses are working and earn enough to sustain themselves, it’s unlikely spousal support would be awarded to the lower wage-earner. 

Jamie McCourt’s job was being the wife of a rich baseball team owner.  She helped her husband maintain a certain community profile and image–including by being a non-working spouse.  As a result, she has every right to expect him to contribute towards her living expenses until the divorce judgment is final.

4. Rich people have expenses you can’t imagine.  Perhaps you think Kelis should be shopping for her child at The Children’s Place.  Maybe you think Jamie McCourt should move into a West Hollywood day rate motel until she can get a job at Hooters.  That’s what you’d do, right?

That’s why you’re not rich.

If a person’s net worth eclipses the GDP of a third world country, he’s expecting to have to shell out some dough to his soon-to-be ex.  News reports mention that Jamie McCourt originally sought $1 million per month in spousal support.  What’s really telling is that Frank McCourt offered her $150,000/month—nearly $100,000 more than the Kelis child support award that had people up in arms.  Truly rich?  Nas and Kelis aren’t even close.  If Frank McCourt could afford to offer $150K/month, another $500K/month probably isn’t going to bankrupt him.

5. For the benefit of the person who tweeted “The chick isn’t even hot” in reference to Jamie McCourt’s support award: hotness is not a factor considered by any court in entering an award of child or spousal support.  If it were, every star male athlete, actor and entertainer would be vying to marry the ugliest woman on the planet.

6. A pre-nup is unnecessary if you don’t have shyt to begin with.

So the next time you find yourself worried about the latest celebrity divorce payout, remember—unless you’re the celebrity in question, it’s just gossip to you.

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21 Responses to “Child/Spousal Support Awards of the Rich and Famous, and You”

  1. Jenna Says:

    Thank you so much for writing this!

  2. Child/Spousal Support Awards of the Rich and Famous, and You … | Child Support Says:

    […] same. Child support is awarded to help take care of the children’s needs. See more here:  Child/Spousal Support Awards of the Rich and Famous, and You … AKPC_IDS += "2159,";Popularity: unranked […]

  3. ceeshan Says:

    Absolutely agree. Why all the controversy over the monetary awards of the rich and famous? The Kelis and Nas rants were the worst. Some people were acting like the pay affected them and would be coming out of their pocket. I could care less how much a celebrity has to pay in child or spousal support. Hopefully some of the people ranting will read this.

  4. wizardofoz321 Says:

    Right on point. 🙂

  5. [fung'ke][blak][chik] Says:

    amen!!

  6. AGrownAzzMan Says:

    It is important to point out a couple of things on the McCorts divorce.
    1) Jamie was not some trophy-wife/goldigger. They were married for over 30 years.
    2) They both worked at building what they are now splitting. Until the divorce Jamie was the COO of the Dodgers and the highest-ranking female executive in baseball. Until Frank fired her. Now she has no income, hence the temporal spousal support.

    She is entitled to HALF (cue Eddie Murphy) under California law and this could get real ugly.

    • carolynedgar Says:

      I didn’t know the McCourts were married for over 30 years and that she was the former Dodgers COO. None of the news reports pointed that out, just focused on the size of her temporary support award (which smacks a bit of sexism). Still, if she had just been his blonde arm candy, I wouldn’t have a problem with her getting the temp spousal support award she received.

  7. Dawn Says:

    I’m curious about why you had to pay for both lawyers? is that normal? I would think whoever signs the retainer pays the bill!

  8. My First Haters « Carolyn A. Edgar Says:

    […] seems some of the people who disliked my posts, in particular the one about men, or the one about celebrity divorce settlements, chose not to post comments on my blog.  They also chose not to debate me on Twitter or Facebook, […]

  9. Clareified » Blog Archive » Don’t hate on Elin Woods Says:

    […] Or think what happens in Hollywood applies to you. […]

  10. pearatty Says:

    It’s pretty common in community property states, at least, for the court to order the spouse with more resources to pay for the other spouse’s attorney in a divorce action.

  11. pearatty Says:

    On reading this, my thoughts were:

    “Frank McCourt, the author of “Angela’s Ashes”, owns the Dodgers?”
    “Isn’t he dead?”

  12. gossip Says:

    Whatever it is, the lawyers are the one who get the money thay don’t deserve.

  13. Dorian Laramee Says:

    Possibly a person identify where the source of your will be from? I am inquisitive about understanding plenty of the idea.

  14. Kia, JD Says:

    Thank you! I’m constantly telling people that their sensational ideas about money-hungry wives getting payouts they don’t deserve are quite exaggerated. If people had even the most basic understanding of how domestic relations proceedings took place or even how the lives of the wealthy differ from average folks’, then maybe they could just chill out and use common sense!

  15. 2010 In Review « Carolyn A. Edgar Says:

    […] Child/Spousal Support Awards of the Rich and Famous, and You May 201015 comments 3 […]

  16. Brian Says:

    I’m willing to bet my right nut that the writer of this is a female.

    6. “A pre-nup is unnecessary if you don’t have shyt to begin with.”

    100% untrue. A pre-nup will protect future income, winnings, assets, etc. Every guy should get a pre-nup no matter what. It’ll be the best decision you’ll ever make. Be sure to include the part where in case of divorce, the spouse will get jack shyt except what already belonged to her. BETTER SAFE THAN SORRY! Us men have to stick up for each other in these cases and put the woman back in her place. I don’t have anything now, but when I graduate college with my engineering degree, I know my income will rocket so…. PRE-NUP. Enough said.

    • carolynedgar Says:

      You just won the genius award for figuring out that Carolyn A. Edgar is a woman. Bravo.

      • Brian Says:

        ^^ Not an English major for a reason =) I actually study something WORTHY that’ll yield something better than writing blogs. =D Looks like you’ll need to marry someone rich and divorce him to secure a good future 😄 That’ll be easy for ya since you know law? right?

      • carolynedgar Says:

        Since I’m a lawyer, I manage to do quite well for myself on my own. If you read my About page, you’d know that. Thanks for the page views.

  17. My First Haters | carolynedgar.com Says:

    […] seems some of the people who disliked my posts, in particular the one about men, or the one about celebrity divorce settlements, chose not to post comments on my blog.  They also chose not to debate me on Twitter or Facebook, […]

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