When any celebrity divorce makes internet headlines, my curiosity as a family lawyer is piqued. As a result, over the past two years, I have been clicking on a fair number of articles reporting on Kelly Clarkson’s fairly public divorce. Last month, the internet was ablaze with headlines stating that Clarkson was ordered to pay millions of dollars to her ex-husband, Brandon Blackstone, as part of her divorce settlement. The implication of these headlines was that the divorce order was a major financial blow to Clarkson. From my perspective, however, Clarkson has exited her divorce, financially speaking, largely unscathed. Let me explain.
According to major news outlets, Clarkson earns approximately $1 million a month from “The Kelly Clarkson Show,” a talk show that started in 2019. In addition, it was reported that when she appeared on “The Voice,“ a reality-based, singing competition television show, Clarkson earned approximately $14 million a season. Court documents indicate that these combined TV appearances brought in approximately $1.5 million a month for Clarkson. In contrast, in 2021, Blackstone reportedly earned $10,000 a month as a rancher in Montana.
In addition to the earnings noted above, Clarkson also has her own furniture line and is now appearing on the NBC television show, “American Song Contest.” Earnings from both endeavors are not widely known, but are no doubt significant. In sum, what is important to understand is that Clarkson earns significantly more than her now ex-husband.
According to a recent story in PEOPLE, Clarkson has agreed to pay Blackstone $115,000 a month in spousal support from Feb.1, 2022, until Jan. 31, 2024, and monthly child support in the amount of $45,601 as part of their divorce settlement. In addition, Clarkson will pay Blackstone a one-time property division payment of $1.3 million. While these are significant numbers to the average person, they are not to Clarkson.
Assuming Clarkson’s and Blackstone’s above-listed incomes are correct, Blackstone and Clarkson collectively net approximately $685,500 per month. If you compare that collective amount to the monthly combined support to be paid to Blackstone for the next two years, Blackstone will receive less than one-quarter of the collective dollars earned between Clarkson and Blackstone. It is important to note, however, that for the next two months, Blackstone will receive even less than one-quarter since he is required to pay Clarkson $2,000 a month in rent and $12,5000 a month for the Montana ranch in which he resides. These payments by Blackstone are the result of a judge upholding the parties’ prenuptial agreement and thus finding that the Montana residence purchased during the marriage is the sole property of Clarkson, and that Blackstone only holds a 5.12% separate property interest in the adjoining ranch, which was also purchased during the marriage.
USA Today reports that the Montana properties are worth approximately $17.4 million. Therefore, if Clarkson was to sell the Montana properties following Blackstone’s exit from the properties, she would easily earn back the $1.3 million paid out to Blackstone in property division.
As you can see, from a sheer balance-sheet perspective, the divorce did not hit Clarkson’s wallet particularly hard. The outcome is a testament to what a well-written prenuptial agreement and good lawyering can accomplish. This is not to say, however, that Clarkson is the victor of the divorce. Clarkson and Blackstone suffered the loss of their marriage. She and Blackstone may still need to heal the emotional wounds they received before and during the divorce process. Hopefully, they both can move on respectfully for the benefit of their children.
This article originally appeared as a column for the Cleveland Jewish News.