In many ways, the lifestyles of celebrities may seem very different from those not in the public eye. However, there can be a lot that we can all learn from things like the divorce and family law cases of celebrities. For instance, the ongoing alimony dispute between singing superstar Mary J. Blige and her ex-husband has continued taking place in the courts. Although Blige’s case is happening in California, there are still many important reminders available for people in Florida who are going through, or may be facing, litigation over alimony. If you are in, or anticipate being in, an alimony dispute, make sure that you and your interests are protected by retaining an experienced Florida spousal support attorney.
In recent months, Blige has been making news for reasons other than her music. A recent interview with Vulture included references to her financial stresses of recent years. Variety reported on one of those financial stressors: a New Jersey mansion she has for sale, currently priced at more than $5 million less than she paid for it.
Another issue for the singer has been litigation surrounding her divorce. Blige and her husband, Martin “Kendu” Isaacs, filed for divorce in 2016. As part of that process, Isaacs requested alimony. He asked the court to award him a six-figure monthly alimony amount, but the Los Angeles judge handling the case awarded him $30,000 per month, according to a TMZ report. Recently, Isaacs returned to court, asking the judge to increase Blige’s monthly alimony obligation to $65,000. Isaacs’s argument contended that many of the singer’s statements to the press cast him in such a negative light that he was unable to find new work with other artists, according to TheBlast.com. This, in addition to the success of two “divorce” songs on Blige’s new album, allegedly meant that he had the need for more alimony and that she had the ability to pay.
In Florida, in setting an amount of alimony, the law analyzes the supporting spouse’s ability to pay and the recipient spouse’s need. The lifestyle that the couple enjoyed during the marriage does play a factor in assessing the amount of alimony that should be paid. Alimony should be in an amount such that each spouse enjoys a post-divorce standard of living that comes as close as possible to the lifestyle they enjoyed while married, given the financial resources available to the supporting spouse, Florida courts have ruled. In other words, in some cases, an alimony payment of $7,000 per month might be very fair and appropriate, but if you’ve spent the last 18 years living a luxurious life on Fisher Island, and your spouse makes $700,000 per year, $7,000 per month might be very low, depending on other financial commitments.
In Blige’s case, the presence of those other financial commitments made a difference. While she and Isaacs had enjoyed a posh lifestyle, the couple owed millions in back taxes at the time of their divorce. This large tax debt load, along with bad real estate purchases (like the New Jersey mansion), would restrict the amount of financial resources available for alimony in this case.
As far as legal actions for an increase in alimony, Florida law requires that, before a court can decide on an amount of increased alimony, the judge must first conclude that there has been a “substantial change of circumstances.” While a supporting spouse’s large uptick in income can be a valid change, moderate increases in wealth or an influx of income that is not “regular and continuous” will not trigger changes to the alimony obligation.
For your alimony case or other family law needs, retain legal counsel upon which you can rely. Experienced Miami spousal support attorney Sara Saba has been providing strong and dependable counsel and advocacy for her clients for more than 13 years. Our team is dedicated to meeting your family law needs. Contact us online or by calling (305) 450-8009 to schedule your consultation. Hablamos Español.