Melissa Etheridge Gives Up Half Her Royalties in Divorce Settlement

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Turns out gay divorce is pretty much just as acrimonious as straight divorce.  In 2010, Melissa Etheridge, a singer/songwriter, split from her longtime actress wife Tammy Lynn Michaels.  The two married in 2003, though not explicitly legally.  It was a “commitment ceremony”, which is really more like a party and doesn’t set any legal claim to marriage.  The two registered themselves in a domestic partnership with the state of California, which carries a different set of rights and obligations than marriage.  Michaels gave birth to a set of twins in 2006, further cementing their bond.  They unfortunately missed the deadline to get married legally in the short period of time when California permitted gay marriage in 2008, which would have made this much less business-like.  However, since their breakup in 2010, the two have been in a contentious divorce-like fight about the dissolution of their partnership, which was finally resolved yesterday.  And if you thought business partnerships were rough, just imagine it when children and spite are involved.

Michaels had been receiving $23,000 a month in spousal and child support, according to a previous settlement.  However, the actress claimed that she had become “accustomed to an extravagant life” and deserved more, considering Etheridge accrues some $125,000 a month in music royalties alone.  The proceedings were about as hostile as you’d imagine in a divorce but without as much legal weight behind it.  Etheridge was apparently appalled by Michaels’ treatment of their children.  Michaels at one point burnt one of the children with a cigarette butt, which she admitted in a terrible, terrible poem on her blog, claiming it was an accident.  Michaels, in return, accused Etheridge of not being “motherly enough”.

Etheridge eventually acquiesced to Michaels’ demands.  It was announced yesterday that half of the royalties from Etheridge’s various hits will now go to the actress (which, if you’ll remember, would be about $60k/month, or three times what it was).  Not bad.  Now I guess Michaels is free to return to her career in poetry, which reads like if the Unabomber wrote his manifesto on a broken keyboard.