In a new interesting turn of events for the Kelly Clarkson and Brandon Blackstock divorce, a judge in Los Angeles County just awarded Clarkson primary physical custody of the former couple’s two children, River Rose, age 6, and Remington Alexander, age 4.
Kelly Clarkson filed for divorce from her husband of nearly seven years in June of this year, citing “irreconcilable difference.” Blackstock reportedly wanted the children to move back and forth between Blackstock’s family ranch in Montana, where he will be living, and Clarkson’s home in Los Angeles, where the children are currently residents. However, the court was not so willing to grant Blackstock’s request.
In the court order that ultimately ordered that Clarkson be awarded primary physical custody of the children, while both parents will have joint physical custody and joint legal custody, the judge found that “under the circumstances present in this case, the interest in providing stability and continuity for the minor children weighs in favor of [Clarkson] having primary custody.” It is relatively common for the court to order that the primary custody be with one parent when one of the parents is moving away, especially in situations such as this one where the parties have an extremely difficult time co-parenting. Blackstock was still awarded weekend visits and a portion of holiday visits with the children, but the children will primarily live in California.
Although Clarkson won this time around, she is still in for a long legal battle over the amount of child support and spousal support she may be required to pay Blackstock. When Clarkson originally filed for divorce, she requested that she not be ordered to pay Blackstock any spousal support because they both signed a prenuptial agreement before getting married. But soon after the court sided with Clarkson in regard to child custody and visitation, Blackstock filed a request for $301,000 a month in spousal support along with $135,000 in child support.
Blackstock’s request may seem outlandish but in California, it’s not. The guidelines in California produce some of the highest support in the United States. For child support, the guideline amount is based on formula that takes into consideration both parents’ incomes, what their tax deductions are, and the percentage of time each parent has physical care and control of their child. Under the California guidelines, because Clarkson makes between $20 and $30 million a year, her child support obligations are over $100,000 per month.
Blackstock isn’t destitute and does make his own income from working in talent management and producing, and his income is factored into both the child support and spousal support calculations, but he makes substantially less than Clarkson. Even though Clarkson will have physical custody of their children for the majority of time, because Blackstock will have visitation for about 15% of the month, he is entitled to money to help support the children while they’re in his physical custody. Blackstock’s request of $135,000 a month in child support may seem like a lot but in reality, it is only about 12-18% of Clarkson’s monthly earnings.
Blackstock’s requests will continue to be battled out in court in 2021 but no decision has been made yet.
At Argyris Mah, LLP we have significant experience with custody cases involving parents living in or moving to different states, as well as in high asset/income support cases. Call us at (408) 564-5674 to schedule a free telephone consultation.