What To Know About Lisa Marie Presley’s Divorce

The only child of Elvis Presley has lived a tumultuous life, and she has had an equally rocky divorce from her ex-husband Michael Lockwood.

Lisa Marie Presley divorced Lockwood, a struggling musician and producer, in 2016 after 10 years of marriage. He was her fourth husband after musician Danny Keough, pop star Michael Jackson, and actor Nicholas Cage.

Lockwood recently dragged Presley back into court just weeks after reaching a tentative deal on increased child support payments for the former couple’s 14-year-old fraternal twin daughters, Harper and Finley. He is reportedly demanding her testimony and more disclosure about the state of her finances, and whether she can afford to pay fees for his attorneys, a forensic accountant, and other court-related costs.

The battle between Lockwood and Presley has been long and ugly, with nasty allegations lodged by both parents about whether the other was fit to have custody of the children. After Presley filed for divorce, she accused Lockwood of having a stash of child pornography on his personal computer, which he vehemently denied. He brought up her past drug and alcohol addiction, and claimed she would likely “relapse” after the 2020 suicide of her then-27-year-old son Benjamin Keough, from her first marriage.

Now the state of her finances is in the spotlight. She is the sole heir to her father’s estate, including a $65 million trust and his famed Memphis property Graceland. But her lavish spending has left her in millions of dollars of debt. Lockwood is claiming her situation may have improved after a lucrative book deal and the 2022 release of the biopic “Elvis” by Baz Luhrmann.

It’s no wonder there is so much public curiosity about the dispute — Presley is practically music royalty, given that her father, who died tragically when she was just 9 years old, was the “King of Rock ‘n’ Roll.” But aside from the glitz, stardom and drama in the case, there are important lessons anyone working through a divorce can take away from it.

Inheritance is Usually off the Table

Lockwood has claimed that Presley lives “the high life” while he is struggling to get by. But regardless of this differential in living standards, what Presley inherited from her father is not considered part of the marital estate — and he does not have rights to it. As long as the inheritance is maintained as separate property, and not put in a joint account or is otherwise comingled, what you inherited is yours.

You May Still Owe Child Support Even If You Have Joint Custody

That said, Presley’s income — reportedly as much as $104,000 per month, mostly from her father’s estate — can still be considered for the purposes of calculating child support payments. Usually, child support payments depend on the parenting schedule. The parent who has more time with the children is typically the recipient of child support. But if both parents have equal time with the children, the parent who earns more pays child support.

Debts Won’t Prevent You From Owing Child Support

You would think even a celebrity could live comfortably on $104,000 per month. But Presley’s spending has long outstripped her income. According to information disclosed in court, she spends $23,500 each month on rent, $1,708 each month for a Maserati, and racks up as much as $92,000 a month in other bills. Plus, she claims to owe $1 million to the IRS.

But being in debt for discretionary reasons, like living in a mansion and driving a high-end sports car, won’t stop you from having to pay child support typically. Child support also cannot be discharged in bankruptcy. Courts are serious about making sure you provide for your children’s welfare.

Prior Drug/Alcohol Abuse Should Not Matter in Custody Disputes

Lockwood’s attempt to win full custody by citing Presley’s past drug and alcohol addiction was not successful, and rightfully so. Presley admitted publicly to becoming addicted to opioid painkillers after she was prescribed them following the birth of her twins. She acknowledged she had a long and difficult road to recovery. But a judge in her divorce case pointed out that she is now sober, and remains sober. As long as she does not pose a danger to her children, her past history of addiction is not relevant.


Dror Bikel

Dror Bikel co-founded Bikel Rosenthal & Schanfield, New York’s best known firm for high-conflict matrimonial disputes. A New York Superlawyer℠ and twice recognized (2020 and 2021) New York Divorce Trial Lawyer of the Year, Dror’s reputation as a fearsome advocate in difficult custody and divorce disputes has led him to deliver solid outcomes in some of New York’s most complex family law trials. Attorney Bikel is a frequent commentator on high profile divorces for national and international media outlets. His book The 1% Divorce - When Titans Clash was a 5-category Amazon bestseller.

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