Singer and talk show host Kelly Clarkson married talent manager Brandon Blackstock in 2013, and the pair had two children together. They separated in 2020 after quarantine highlighted their differences. Their divorce has been a hotly contested and complex process.
History of Problems
In addition to their marital woes, Clarkson and Blackstock also had difficult professional entanglements. In 2020 Clarkson filed documents alleging his management company defrauded her by charging extreme fees during the 13 years it managed her career. Blackstock’s company denied these allegations.
Prior to the marriage, the couple signed a prenuptial agreement. When Clarkson filed for divorce, she sought to enforce the terms of that agreement. In August 2021, it was reported that the court ruled to uphold the prenuptial agreement. The case did not conclude at that point, and Blackstock continued to seek custody, child support, and spousal support.
Although litigation continued after the prenuptial agreement was recognized, it likely reduced the length and conflict in the case. Either party always has the opportunity to contest a prenuptial agreement.
Common reasons include:
- There was not complete financial disclosure prior to signing it
- Both parties did not have independent attorneys review the document prior to signing
- There was fraud or coercion involved in the process
- The parties did not both sign the agreement
- The agreement is not in writing
Private Judge Takes Over
Clarkson filed for divorce in June 2020. Blackstock sought $135,000 per month for child support and $301,000 in spousal support monthly. In August of 2021, the court bifurcated the case and declared the marriage legally over (both of them single) but left the rest of the issues unresolved.
In November 2021, the couple agreed to have their case heard by a private judge. Private judges, usually retired judges or prominent divorce attorneys, act as arbitrators in divorce cases. They are paid by the couple and act as an impartial judge. The parties can agree to relax some of the rules and procedures required in a courtroom, but both sides present evidence and make their arguments. The judge’s decision is binding as a settlement and becomes the divorce judgment.
One of the primary benefits of a private judge is the privacy it offers. Clarkson and Blackstock most likely wanted their case out of the public eye and public court system. A private judge provided a level of confidentiality that cannot be found in a state court. Private judges also avoid many of the scheduling delays that can be expected in court.
The press reported the probably most hotly contested issue in the divorce was the couple's Montana ranch, valued at $17 million. Both parties wanted the ranch in the divorce, although the prenuptial agreement said it was Clarkson’s. In August 2021, the court ordered Blackstock to pay maintenance costs at the ranch totaling $81,000. The private judge eventually awarded possession of the ranch to Clarkson as per the terms of the prenuptial agreement.
Meanwhile, Blackstock was still living in it and refused to leave. He reportedly insisted he could not afford another home and had nowhere to go. Clarkson’s position was that he had no right to stay. The judge eventually ruled that Blackstock could remain in the home until June 2022 and pay $12,500 in monthly rent to Clarkson until that point.
The conflict continued when Blackstock returned to court to ask that Clarkson be ordered to turn off all security and surveillance cameras on the property. The court agreed with him and required Clarkson to provide proof of compliance.
In January 2022, the couple reached a settlement in which she gave him a 5.12 percent share of the ranch worth more than $900,000. He was not given any interest in the adjoining property Clarkson owns, however. Clarkson has expressed her desire to sell the ranch. At the time of the sale, she will be required to pay Blackstock for his interest in the ranch if she has not done so already.
Blackstock moved out of the property before June 1, 2022, and has reportedly purchased a home on 40 acres listed for $1.8 million in Butte, Montana. Blackstock previously indicated a desire to leave the entertainment industry and become a rancher.
Clarkson Wins Custody but Has to Pay
Clarkson was granted primary custody of the couple’s two children after the court noted the parties had difficulty coparenting due to trust issues. Blackstock has visitation one weekend per month. Clarkson was also ordered to pay child support to Blackstock in the amount of $45,600 per month, and $115,000 in spousal support monthly. Additionally, Blackstock was awarded a one-time lump payment of $1,326,161. The divorce was finalized in March 2022
Clarkson Changes Name
Clarkson privately adopted Blackstock as her last name during the marriage. As part of the divorce settlement, she legally changed her name to Kelly Brianne (Brianne is her middle name). She will continue to use Clarkson as her professional and stage name.