For centuries, it was the husband who worked and earned money, while the wife took care of their home and their children. But when governments hired large numbers of women to work in munitions factories during World War I, the number of women who entered the workforce dramatically increased. Since then, the number of wives who are the primary breadwinner has grown and continues to grow. This shifts gender norms so that sometimes, upon separation or divorce, it's the ex-wives who end up providing spousal support (not to be confused with child support) to their ex-husbands.
However, as society further embraces the values of financial independence and gender equality, attitudes are changing towards spousal support, especially the perpetual type. It is increasingly seen as unfair to both the provider and the recipient, as it creates a parasitic relationship that holds both parties back from growing financially. In fact, Massachusetts, Kansas, and Texas now limit spousal support payments to periods deemed long enough for the lower-earning spouse to learn new skills in school or get back on their feet financially.
Unfortunately, the wisdom of those states hasn’t reached Hollywood — or at least these high-profile women who are making eye-watering payments to their ex-husbands.
Accommodating the standard of living he was used to
As much as we want to refrain from making judgments, this justification for spousal support makes us roll our eyes. It is especially insulting to Queen of Hip Hop Soul Mary J. Blige. After her then-husband Kendu Isaacs cheated on her (with her own protégé Starshell, no less), she had to pay him $30,000 a month so he could keep on living like he used to. Talk about rewarding bad behavior!
A more reasonable arrangement was made between Empire star Tasha Smith and Keith Douglas, with the former paying the latter $7,000 a month.
At least that’s more reasonable than what Spice Girl Mel B’s ex-husband Stephen Belafonte asked for. Consider these monthly figures: $4,300 for food and groceries, $11,000 for housing, $750 for a cell phone plan, and $2,000 for clothing! According to TMZ, Belafonte partially got what he wanted, with Mel B coughing up $15,000 a month in spousal support for three years. It’s supposedly part of a deal that includes — get this — the destruction of explicit videos that feature Scary Spice.
Working as a stay-at-home dad
While we mentioned earlier that spousal support is different from child support, it apparently doesn’t stop people from using the latter like the former. Oscar winner Halle Berry pays model Gabriel Aubry $20,000 in child support, which he reportedly partially uses to support himself. Some accounts paint him as someone who can’t work and be a doting father at the same time, while others claim he actually rejects modeling gigs and just lives off Berry.
Can’t work as much, if at all
It’s one thing to work as a full-time dad, but not to work at all seems ludicrous — unless you take into account serious injuries. Elizabeth Taylor voluntarily gave her seventh and last ex-husband Larry Fortensky $1,000 every month after he fell on his head and was in a six-week coma in 1999, and even went so far as to leave him $800,000 in her will.
A different head injury has led actor Brian Austin Green to seek spousal support from soon-to-be ex-wife Megan Fox. Claiming that since he suffers severe vertigo due to the airbags that hit his face hard after a car accident, he can’t work as much as Fox and thus needs the support.
Regardless of which side of a spousal support battle you find yourself on, it can be a brutal affair. Whether you’re the husband or the wife, our Renton attorneys at Buckingham, LaGrandeur, & Williams will give you the best representation you deserve.