Dr. Dre's Wife Files for Divorce

Music star Dr. Dre's 24-year marriage is ending in divorce. His wife Nicole Young, age 50, has filed for divorce in Los Angeles County Superior Court via her celebrity attorney Samantha Spector. Dr. Dre, age 55, whose given name is Andre Young, is best known for being a member of N.W.A. and having a solo rap career. 

He built his wealth as the co-owner of Death Row Records, CEO of Aftermath Entertainment, and co-founder of Beats Electronics, known for their headphones and electronics. Dr. Dre and his wife were last seen together publicly in February 2020 at the Tom Ford AW20 show at Milk Studios in Hollywood.

Irreconcilable Differences

Young filed the divorce papers against Dr. Dre, stating that the couple had irreconcilable differences. Under California law, irreconcilable differences is a method for obtaining a no-fault divorce, whereby the couple simply states that they cannot get along. Thus, the grounds requirement for the divorce is met. All states offer some form of no-fault divorce now, making it possible to get a divorce without proving an actual reason or grounds for the divorce, which reduces conflict and makes it simpler to end the marriage. 

Source of Dr. Dre's Wealth

In 2019, Forbes named six-time Grammy recipient Dr. Dre as one of the five most wealthiest hip hop artists, estimating his wealth at $800 million. His net worth significantly increased in 2014 when his company Beats was sold to Apple for $3.2 billion. Despite his considerable wealth, Dre sees the Forbes number as too low of an estimate. In a since-deleted Instagram post, Dre referred to himself as "The first billionaire in hip hop from the motherf***ing West Coast." Nicole is employed as an attorney.

In addition to their business holdings, the couple owns $60 million in real estate, including a mansion in Pacific Palisades and a Brentwood home, previously owned by football great Tom Brady. In 2019 the couple sold their home in Woodland Hills. 

Family Dynamics

Dre is the father of six adult children. Four of them are from previous relationships: La Tanya Danielle Young, 37; Curtis Young, 38; Marcel Young, 29; and Andre Young Jr., who passed away from an apparent drug overdose in 2008 at age 20. Dr. Dre and Nicole share two adult children, son Truice Young, age 23, and daughter Truly Young, age 19. Because all of the children are adults, there is no child support involved in the case. 

Dr. Dre's Missteps

Although Dr. Dre may not have been multimillionaire when he got married, he built his wealth throughout the course of his 24-year marriage. He formed Aftermath Records in 1996 near the time of his marriage, which was a significant asset and business holding. By 2001, he reportedly earned $35 million from selling his share in Aftermath Records, skyrocketing his liquid holdings (and turning the money from that sale into marital property if his ownership in the company was not community property before this point). 

Despite his considerable wealth, Dr. Dre reportedly did not execute a prenuptial agreement or a postnuptial agreement with his wife. Under California law, that means that his wife is entitled to one-half of the wealth that accumulated during their marriage, a substantial loss to his net worth. While he was not known for his wealth at the time of his marriage, he was an artist with some holdings and executing a prenuptial agreement before the marriage could have clearly delineated which assets would be divisible in a future divorce. 

A prenuptial agreement can clarify the couple's rights to property acquired during the marriage and determine how it will be shared in a divorce. The agreement also establishes responsibility for debt incurred during the marriage. 

He also could have executed a postnuptial agreement at any point during the marriage. It would have particularly made sense to do so before selling Aftermath Records or, at the very least, before selling Beats to Apple. 

A postnuptial agreement serves the same function as a prenuptial agreement but is created during the marriage. If the couple had created either a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement, there would be little to argue over in their divorce, and they could swiftly finalize their dissolution. Because they did not create one of these crucial documents, they are likely to spend many months waiting for their attorneys to work out a settlement or will have to rely on the judge to decide about their many assets.

An Amicable Divorce Not Likely

There are signs that the divorce is not an amicable one. One indication is that it appears the couple has not reached a settlement since none has yet been filed with the court. Many celebrity or high profile clients are advised to hold off on filing for divorce until a settlement or arbitrated agreement is executed, which allows them to file papers to open the case and the agreed-upon settlement simultaneously so the case can be immediately resolved. 

Another clue that this is not an amicable divorce is that the papers were filed on a Monday when the filing could have been held until late on the afternoon on the Friday preceding the Fourth of July weekend. To reduce press coverage, it is common to hold celebrity filings until late in the day on a Friday or before a holiday, so that the filing does not receive extensive attention. However, when the filing spouse wants to make a point, filing on a Monday so that it will be in the news cycle for an entire week will certainly do so.

Other Issues to Resolve

Although the couple no longer have minor children and thus child support will not be at issue, Nicole has requested spousal support in her filing. While spousal support in California is determined via a formula, high net worth cases are complex. They examine not only a person's earnings, but also profit distributions, perks, phantom income, passive income, and more. 

The case will likely include an order for temporary spousal support to be paid while the case is pending. If the couple had a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement in place, spousal support could be covered in it, eliminating the need for litigation of this issue.

The outcome of the case is worth watching for, to see how the couple's wealth is divided and at what level the court establishes spousal support. It is not known at this time who represents Dr. Dre in the case. 


Dror Bikel

Dror Bikel founded and leads 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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