When Mary J. Blige married Kendu Isaacs in 2003 she thought she had found the right man. They were married for 13 years before she found out that he wasn’t. Their divorce soon turned contentious and now a lot of money is at stake. Will the judge decide in her favour or will she have to pay up?
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Married for 13 years
Mary J. Blige has thus far only been married once. In December 2003 she married her manager Kendu Isaacs in a no-fuss ceremony attended by only 50 guests. The wedding took place at her home and none of the guests were celebrities.
One guest called it “nice and peaceful”. And what else would you want from a ceremony celebrating your love? There’s no need for a big party, if that’s not your cup of tea and Mary J. Blige seems to have preferred it that way.
Her mother’s fiancé apparently called the relationship “really good”, commenting that Kendu is “kind and understanding”.
After their quiet wedding, Mary and Kendu proceeded into a quiet marriage. She became step-mother to his three children, whilst the couple never had children together. And their marriage appeared to be rather drama-free. Indeed, four years into her marriage Blige actually said that her husband had changed everything for her – in a very positive way. At the time she said: “He was the first person to ever challenge what I did: ‘Why are you drinking? Why do you hate yourself? You don’t need to be around people who tear you down. You’re beautiful, Mary.’ He was the first man to ever tell me that.”
Filing for divorce
That made it so surprising when we heard in July 2016 that Mary had filed for divorce from Kendu. There had not been much of an indication that the marriage was on the rocks. Four years earlier Mary had said on the Wendy Williams Show that her marriage was fine. Perhaps not everything was perfect, simply because no relationship ever really is. But she said “We have situations just like everyone else. We’re not out in public trying to kill each other, but it’s real. We love each other.”
And that was that. No need to comment further on her relationship and gossip rags didn’t really report anything unusual either.
In her filing for divorce Blige cited irreconcilable differences. Nothing unusual here. She also asked the court to terminate its ability to award spousal support. That’s more interesting.
And so the big question is: What happened?
Cheating allegations and IRS debts
Well, we can pin it down to two reasons. First of all, and most importantly, it seems that Kendu cheated on his wife. The claim is certainly not without substance. It would appear that Isaacs got close to Mary’s protégé “Starshell” (her real name is LaNeah Menzies), an aspiring singer-songwriter. Mary J. Blige didn’t name names when she said that another woman was the cause of the end of her marriage. But “Starshell” appears to be among the likeliest candidates, especially since she has apparently a thing for going after married men.
Be that as it may, money was another issue between Mary and Kendu. The two have somehow managed to run up $10 million in debt. Mostly that money is owed to the IRS. That doesn’t much speak to Kendu’s skills as a manager. It is probably not much of a surprise that Mary fired him from his job as well. Though it would have been unlikely for him to remain her manager through the divorce regardless, especially since the divorce is contentious.
In the year and a half since filing for divorce money has become a massive issue between Blige and her estranged husband. He asked for a ridiculous amount of spousal support since she fired him as her manager, which left him unemployed and, if you ask him, nearly destitute. He wanted $130,000 per month from her, but the judge “only” awarded him $30,000 monthly for the time being. Blige was also ordered to pay $100k towards his legal fees.
Kendu is still not happy, because Mary makes a significant amount of money and he is more or less unemployable these days, because she’s been trashing him in the industry. Last we’ve heard he wanted an increase in spousal support, asking for it to be bumped up to $65,000.
And then there’s the IRS debt. It now stands at over $10 million and since Mary J. Blige considers it a shared debt, she asked Kendu for $5,990,357, which would be his half and that would settle things.
Needless to say that she’s less than pleased to be paying him spousal support to begin with, especially since he appears to make very little effort to get a job.
As it stands, the IRS debt has yet to be paid and Mary is due in court on that issue as well. She is actually facing jail time if this does not get resolved, which makes her impending divorce seem like a lesser problem.
How will the judge decide?
Thus far the court has not decided in Mary’s favour, at least in terms of spousal support. All things being equal, Mary would most certainly receive spousal support from her estranged husband, if the situation was reversed. The very fundamental question, of course, is whether or not the amounts in question are in any way justified. Just because someone has become accustomed to a certain lifestyle doesn’t mean that an ex-partner has to support that lifestyle indefinitely after a split. Nobody is entitled to a certain lifestyle or to the money of their ex-spouse.
It would rile Mary especially to be paying him so much money in light of the cheating allegations. She went so far as to call Kendu a con-artist, saying that she wasn’t happy about a lot of things. There she was thinking he loved her when she loved him and apparently it wasn’t so.
Her heartbreak and upset resulted in her writing at least two “divorce” songs, but also in her giving everything to the role of Florence Jackson in the movie Mudbound, for which she actually received an Oscar nomination.
So, whilst things are not well in her personal life, at least professionally she’s still incredibly successful.
Mary and Kendu are due in court in March this year and it’s about time their divorce is settled. With everything that has been going on between the two, the chances for a peaceful settlement are slim. It will be up to the judge to make the important decisions. One can only hope that Mary has a good lawyer to ensure Kendu gets as little as possible.