We were disappointed to learn that the rumors about Nas and Kelis calling it quits were true. In her filings, a seven-months-pregnant Kelis stated irreconcilable differences as the reason for the split and is seeking spousal and child support, joint custody of their unborn son, and for Nas to pay for court costs. The duo joins a long line of celeb couples gone kaput. Entertainment lawyer Paul Gardner, who has represented OutKast, Mya and more, weighs in on the latest Hollywood divorce drama.
ESSENCE.COM: Attorney Gardner, if you were Nas's lawyer how would you advise him?
PAUL GARDNER: Well, I've met Nas on a couple of occasions and I was very shocked about this, with the rumors going on for six or eight months now. If he doesn't have a pre-nup, I would tell him it's cheaper to keep her and settle the differences, much like Michael Jordan tried to do. He went back in the house and tried to straighten up after his lawyers showed him the numbers. I speculate Kelis came in with far less than Nas had. The fact is a judge is going to look at how she is accustomed to living now and how she was before marrying Nas. There will be alimony and child support for the next 18 years.
ESSENCE.COM: And in this, how will child support and custody probably work out?
GARDNER: For custody, both legal and physical will probably be awarded to her, especially with a newborn. For child support, they will look at what Nas makes and his living expenses, and generally take 20-30 percent of that gross amount—not the net. This is even before taxes. If I was Nas's lawyer, I would pull him in a room fast and I would run the numbers. He is not going to be the same financially for at least 10-12 years. He definitely will see a decline in his lifestyle, even if he tries not to show it.
ESSENCE.COM: Do you advise your famous clients on the seriousness of marriage and prenups beforehand?
GARDNER: I'm old school, and I am used to you going to see a minister to be cleared, then you see a lawyer. My advice is to get a prenuptial agreement, which protects both of them. I've had celebrity couples on my couch and they joke, laugh and kiss when I bring up a prenup. Then the guy will wink behind her back when she's not looking, because he didn't know how to bring it up. Invariably guys are weak when we are in love and women have a lot of power, so it's not always the women who don't want to do it.
ESSENCE.COM: Interesting. So what can the average person learn from the collapse of these famous marriages?
GARDNER: This teaches everyone that rich people have problems too. We are so used to putting them on pedestals, we forget. In this case a baby isn't enough to keep them together, when usually you will see people will try to work it out when that happens. But she's seven months pregnant and she still is filing. This is going to be very difficult for these individuals, like it would be for anyone else.