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Divorce and family law: A new argument for spousal support

A recent legal proceeding in California involving the end of a marriage brings a new kind of claim by a dependent spouse for spousal support payments. Kendu Isaacs, the estranged husband of singer Mary J. Blige, claims that two songs published by Blige are preventing him from finding work and earning a living. That is a new argument in family law circles, and it is one that Isaacs may have difficulty proving to the satisfaction of the family law judge presiding in this divorce case.

Blige's recent album, "Strength of a Woman," was indeed a collection of music that reflected her personal adversities in transitioning from the marriage into divorce. But the songs "Love Yourself" and "Set Me Free" are hardly endowed with the power to prevent Isaacs, a music executive, from finding work. Nonetheless, his filing incredulously blames the two songs as holding him back from working.

With the force of that argument having little or no credence, the real issue will be whether the family law judge wants to grant Isaacs' claim for increased spousal support on other grounds. The husband claims that the $30,000 per month in spousal support that he has been collecting pursuant to a support order entered in 2016 is just not enough. He alleges that he has been living in a 1,400 sq. ft. apartment in Los Angeles ever since he left the couple's $8 million mansion.

A California family law judge will order spousal support or alimony payments that intend to maintain one of the spouses in the manner that he/she came to rely upon during the marriage. That is a general principle that has been generally honored in the law of divorce, support and alimony. However, there are various equities that the court will evaluate in making an order. If the impact of the separation or divorce has directly reduced the income or lifestyle of a spouse making less money, the court may decide that it is fair and appropriate to award a larger support amount. However, the dependent spouse generally has a duty to become employed, take educational training to become employed or otherwise cooperate in a good faith effort to rehabilitate himself or herself.

Source:, "Kendu Isaacs wants more cash from Mary J. Blige for divorce songs", Oct. 24, 2017

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