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Encore: Super Bowl LVI Rappers’ Divorces

Encore: Super Bowl LVI Rappers’ Divorces

On the Amicable Divorce Expert podcast this week with Beverly Hills millennial attorney Limor Mojdehiazad, we conducted an encore performance of the Super Bowl Halftime Show by exploring aspects of the Rappers’ divorces that are teachable moments for us in our divorces, in the lyrics of their songs, in their social media posts, and in their public behavior.  Topics we explored were Bifurcation, Waiving Marital Privilege, Spousal Support and Imputed Income, Parentage and Child Custody, Free Speech and Violence, and Use of Social Media.

50 Cent was never married, and has three children, two to one mother and one to another mother. Lawyer Limor explained that in order to have court oversight with child support, custody and the co-parenting schedule, a Parentage case must be filed.  But she told us one more thing that everyone should know: It’s in the best interest of the father to initiate the filing. I didn’t know that and asked, “Why?” Limor’s answer made so much sense.  She said that since the mother bears the child, her parental relationship isn’t in question, while it behooves the father to establish his parental relationship by initiating the filing. In reality, mothers file first to establish child support; and what fathers fear most of all – child support and loss of custody – prevents them from being the initiators. The court looks favorably, Limor told us, on dads who start the process of establishing child support and custody, demonstrating their desire to serve their child with best interests in mind. Our greatest fears are realized when we avoid the reality of our responsibilities.

Mary J. Blige was married to her manager, Kendu Isaacs, for 12 years. When they divorced Mary J. was obliged to provide $30,000 per month in spousal support. When she sang “Rent Money” at the Super Bowl LVI Halftime Show, a track from her new CD, she was addressing her need to tour in order to fulfill the court order. This begged the question: “Was Imputed Income used by the Judge to determine spousal support for Isaacs?” Isaacs’ defense was to continue to live in the lifestyle he enjoyed when married to Mary J. But here’s where Imputed Income comes into play. Isaacs was in part responsible for Mary J.’s income as her manager. That means that if he made money based on his efforts to get Mary J. work, he can do the same for other musical artists. Mary J. was not solely responsible for her income; Kendu was, too. Regarding lifestyle considerations, no one can continue to live at the same level when two residences are established than they lived with one residence between them. Spousal support was designed to equalize the standard of living between former spouses, not punish one spouse financially so that the other spouse can live as they both lived under one roof.

Dr. Dre had an enormous estate to divide with his wife, Nicole, because they met right before NWA and Straight Outa Compton hit big. They had a pre-nuptial agreement going into the marriage, but the tremendous fortune that Dre amassed was still significant enough that without spousal support, Nicole walked away with enough money to last the rest of her life. We learned from Lawyer Limor that when there is a settlement of assets in the millions, spousal support wouldn’t be granted even if there was no pre-nuptial agreement. I know this to be true from a couple who came to me several years ago with a 25 million dollar estate that they divided evenly. The consulting attorney explained that with this level of wealth going to the wife, no spousal support was needed.

Eminem was married not once but twice to Kim. They had one biological daughter. Because another daughter was born to Kim as a result of a different relationship between marriages to Eminem, the 8 Mile rapper adopted Kim’s other daughter. Em also adopted his sister-in-law’s daughter when she could no longer take care of her. And, Eminem adopted his step-brother. So don’t let that troubled persona fool you; this platinum artist has a heart of gold. But his heart of gold can also turn dark when he uses his art to bear his soul by making life-threatening references to Kim and his extended family. The discussion has always been in the world of music and lyrics, is there a line that can’t be crossed with free speech? Where does free speech and damaging remarks meet up? Kim defined her position in a 10 million dollar lawsuit against her former husband.  And I found a little family history that could explain how someone as successful as Eminem could have lyrics that included so much pain. This pain is what made Em’s music appealing. At the end of the music, happy people don’t make disparaging remarks about people close to them. Shady’s upbringing seemed less than happy, and more than likely had a direct result on what he produced within his art form as a song writer. Artists express themselves through their art. That’s what they know, and that’s what they share.

Kanye West was in the stands, not on the Super Bowl stage, but in the news as much as the rappers performing on February 13th. Kanye’s issues center around how he’s using social media to discredit Kim. It doesn’t seem like Ye accepts Kim dating and is putting on a full-court press blocking Kim’s request to Bifurcate the divorce, meaning that Kim wants to request for divorce to be granted without the requisite decisions included in a full divorce settlement to include child custody and child support. West is asking the court to Waive Marital Privilege in the event that Kim remarries and her husband overhears remarks made by Kim that could be damaging to her in the area of custody. Limor explained that Marital Privilege means that one spouse is not legally required to testify against the other spouse in court. Kanye wants this waived in order for the Bifurcation to take place: The Legal divorce granted before settlement decisions are made. Kanye’s use of social media isn’t helping him. Judge’s are people, too. (I know, no Judge jokes, please.) Judge’s can easily be annoyed to the point that they can use judicial discretion where available in the law if one spouse is disparaging the other spouse publicly, especially where the Best Interest of the Child is concerned. Kanye has issued apologies in between outbursts, but his legal team might have to have a ‘come to Yeezus’ meeting with him to get him back on track.

Music is a gift from heaven as we learn through the lyrics of songs and through the song writers and performers who open themselves to the world to share, guide and provide their lives as teachable tools for our lives, for better or for worse.

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