She’s the youngest of all the Jackson siblings, her music has received over 500 award nominations, and she’s also got three secret marriages that ended in not-so-secret divorces.
Ever wondered what it takes to annul an impulsive marriage? Or what legal grounds there are for invalidating a prenuptial agreement? How about why celebs always seem to bail at the five-year mark?
Janet Jackson’s life story is an encyclopedia of family law with answers to all those questions, and it all started with a teenage crush.
Marriage #1: The one that legally never happened
In the mid-’80s, JJ’s bubblegum pop music was topping the Billboard charts and James DeBarge had recently joined his siblings’ band DeBarge. Janet and James were childhood friends and it seemed like nothing could stand in their way...until they eloped.
18-year-old Jackson and 21-year-old DeBarge flew to Grand Rapids, Michigan, and were married while the rest of the Jackson clan was away on tour. Parents, fans, and record executives lost their minds, convincing the two lovebirds to annul the marriage three months later to save their public images.
In most states (including Washington), a marriage can be voided if:
- You find out you’re closer than second cousins
- The marriage is a result of force or fraud
- You are underage and/or without “sufficient understanding”
A team of Jackson family lawyers argued one of those points (we’ll let you guess which one) and helped Janet make the nuptials disappear.
Everyone moved on like mature adults.
Except DeBarge, who for years has fueled rumors that Janet secretly had his child, whom she apparently put up for adoption.
DeBarge had a daughter from another marriage and appeared on her reality TV show to announce, “I was under the impression that there was no baby, and I wanted to believe it’s not true. But it is.”
But when a woman came forward earlier this year claiming to be the offspring of his three-month marriage, did DeBarge agree to a DNA test? No.
But to be fair, that might be because he was last seen sprinting away from a motor vehicle accident he caused.
We can make your marriage disappear legally, but when you’re famous exes follow you for life.
Marriage #2: The ten-year secret
The mystery surrounding Janet’s second marriage doesn’t do much to dispel the whole “hidden baby” thing. In January of 1999, Jackson and René Elizondo Jr. filed divorce papers for a marriage most people didn’t even know existed.
The bride and groom “wanted to preserve [their] marriage by keeping it private,” and according to Elizondo, there were fewer than ten people at their 1991 wedding.
René didn’t seem too keen on preserving that privacy once they called it quits though.
Before the ink had time to dry on the divorce papers, Elizondo’s attorneys announced they would challenge the legality of the couple’s prenuptial agreement, claiming he was forced to sign it under duress.
René’s team pointed to a psychological evaluation that diagnosed him with “Self-Defeating Personality Disorder,” which taken at face value seems like a legal oxymoron.
If you’re truly self-defeating, how would you leverage that disorder to win a case?
The three-year, $25 million suit, asked the judge to consider the 37 songwriting credits Elizondo sacrificed to keep his personal and professional life separate.
René reportedly walked away with $10 million in spousal support, their Malibu beachfront home and a couple cars thrown in for good measure.
Marriage #3: Sunsets and dirty diapers
It took 12 years, a lead role in Nutty Professor 2: The Klumps, and a “wardrobe malfunction” before Jackson got around to planning her third secret wedding.
In 2013, Jackson and billionaire Wissam Al Mana announced they had wed a year earlier in a private an unannounced ceremony. And just a few years later, Janet gave birth to her first undisputed child at the impressive age of 50.
Born on January 3rd, 2017, baby Eissa learned the ins and outs of prenuptial agreements before he could walk.
Assuming the Jackson-Al Mana prenup followed the usual template for two wealthy parties, the division of assets changes dramatically as a relationship gets on in years. Generally referred to as a “sunset clause” by family lawyers, a prenup has less and less bearing on the financial landscape or a marriage based on predetermined intervals -- usually five-year increments.
Prenups also tend to change how assets are divided when a baby comes into the mix, known as the “dirty diapers clause”... at least around the Buckingham office.
Both Eissa and the five-year mark arrived within three months of JJ and Wissam announcing their divorce.
We’re not accusing the youngest Jackson sibling of having a child for the sole purpose of increasing her net worth, we’re just pointing out that it did. By a lot...like an additional $200 million a lot.
We haven’t had a lot of clients in Renton who can say they needed assistance on every type of case we handle, but maybe they’re just better at hiding children, marriages and divorces than Janet is.
If you need a lawyer worthy of a Jackson-sized family law matter, call today.