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Singer Mary J. Blige and her husband Martin “Kendu” Isaacs filed for divorce earlier this year. News reports indicate that Mr. Isaacs is asking for approximately $130,000 in monthly spousal support. Many in the public think that Mr. Isaacs shouldn’t be asking for support from his wife. He makes his request based on his contribution to her career and the fact that they should both enjoy the lifestyle they created together during the 13-year marriage. Mr. Isaacs’ request and the public outcry brings up several interesting points.
In a California divorce, the law awards spousal support based on gender-neutral factors. (See California Family Code § 4320 for a list of factors.) Judicial ethics also dictate that judges may not make a decision based on gender biases. So, despite public backlash against Isaac for not “being a man,” a California judge is prohibited from ending an inquiry at the fact that Mr. Isaacs is a man requesting support from a woman.
This is a marriage of 13 years – in California that is called a “marriage of long duration.” In marriages of long duration in a California divorce, there is a presumption that the court will always have the power to order spousal support. In marriages of ten years or less in a California divorce (“marriage of short duration”), spousal support typically lasts approximately half the length of the marriage. In this case, a California judge may keep Ms. Blige on the hook for a support obligation for an indefinite amount of time.
Of course, the above considerations assume a judge is making the decision. The parties may reach an agreement outside of court (what is called a “Marital Settlement Agreement”) where they decide the terms of their divorce.
If you would like to consult with an attorney about initiating the California divorce process or if you have questions about any aspect of requesting, modifying, or enforcing spousal support, please contact our office at 858-974-4900. Attorney Scott Family Law, CFLS, is a Certified Family Law Specialist with more than 35 years of litigation experience in San Diego County, California. We are located in Murphy Canyon, San Diego, California, just north of Mission Valley.