$300K per month in spousal support?!

“Dr. Dre must pay $300K per month in spousal support?! That number can’t be right.”

Social media was flooded with this type of response after it was announced by The Blast that music producer Dr. Dre would be paying that amount.

But it is . . . and it is also fair.

First, it is important to understand that this is a pendente lite (during the divorce case) or “temporary” spousal support award. The media’s wording of the judicial decision has understandably confused the public.

The payment must be made to Nicole on the first of every month, and she will receive the support from Dre until she remarries, enters another domestic partnership or death of either Dre or Nicole.”

Although that certainly sounds like permanent (final) spousal support order language, it cannot be for three reasons:

1) Permanent support is not decided until the property issues are resolved by settlement or trial. 

2) The specific spousal support number given ($293,306.00 per month) is the result of the mathematical formula used to calculate temporary support; the final support amount will be in round numbers, such as $300K, $25K, etc. (Temporary spousal support is based on a mathematical formula contained in a computer program called Dissomaster, used by California family law attorneys and the judges.)

3) Part of the judge’s order is that Dre pay expenses on two of the homes. A permanent (final) support would never order this; instead, the property would have been divided in some fashion.

Now, whether temporary or not, why is this $293,306 monthly payment fair?

The purpose of temporary support is to ensure that finances remain about the same while the divorce is pending. $293, 306 per month sounds outrageous until you consider that Dre’s income is estimated to be $2,916,666 per month. The spousal support award received by his ex-wife is only a bit over 10% of his monthly income. Put into perspective, if you were divorcing and did not work and your spouse earned $5,000 per month, you would receive a $500 a month temporary spousal support award.

In fact, (hold onto your seats) the $293,306 monthly payment is a low temporary spousal support award, which is why Dre was also ordered to pay the expenses on the Malibu and the Pacific Palisades homes while the divorce is ongoing. (Dre’s wife was asking for temporary spousal support in the amount of $1,936,999 per month.)

When the divorce is finalized, permanent spousal support will be ordered. The purpose of permanent spousal support is (to the extent possible) have both parties maintain their marital standard of living even after the divorce.

Permanent spousal support can always be awarded in marriages lasting more than 10 years. Dre’s marriage lasted for 24 years prior to the date of separation.

Dre’s wife could be ordered to find work or to develop job skills and then find work, but that will depend on many factors, such as the age of their children, her ability to work at all, her education, how much she gave up for his career, and her work experience.

The parties are still trying to settle the whole case on their own; however, it may end up in court at least to decide if the prenuptial agreement is valid. (The prenup allegedly allows Dre to keep all the property earned during the marriage as his own separate property.) Dre’s wife alleges that he tore up that agreement long ago as a romantic gesture, making it invalid. Dre maintains that the prenup is still in force. This will be a huge issue as Dre’s current net worth is estimated to be $820 million.

So yes, $300K per month in spousal support in this case is totally reasonable.