Kelly Clarkson and Brandon Blackstock: Divorce Timeline

It’s been four years since Kelly Clarkson filed for divorce from her ex-husband and manager, Brandon Blackstock, and still, there are aftershocks rumbling from the contentious uncoupling.

It’s been a long, bitter end to a relationship that officially began in 2012, though Clarkson and Blackstock first met years prior. Blackstock’s dad, Narvel, was Clarkson’s manager, and in 2006, they crossed paths when Clarkson collaborated with Rascal Flats, whom Brandon was managing at the time. Blackstock was also married then, so it wasn’t until he divorced that he and Clarkson reconnected after the latter sang the National Anthem at the 2012 Super Bowl. 

They married in 2013 and had two children: a daughter born in 2014 and a son born in 2016. Throughout their time together, Blackstock also served as Clarkson’s manager, an arrangement that’s still causing problems as they continue to untangle their working relationship after the resounding end of their romantic one.

With Clarkson opening up another chapter in the ongoing saga earlier this week, as she seeks more money from a California Labor Commission ruling on Blackstock’s business practices, here’s a timeline of a high-profile split that’s played out in courtrooms and tabloids, as much as songs and stages. 

Clarkson files for divorce 

Clarkson filed for divorce from Blackstock on June 4, 2020, citing irreconcilable differences. In the original filing, Clarkson asked the court to enforce a prenup agreement, ensure she wouldn’t have to pay Blackstock spousal support, and that both parties would cover their own legal fees. Clarkson also requested that her last name be restored after taking Blackstock’s when they wed. 

Over the next few months, Clarkson spoke openly about the divorce. She, obviously, did not share specific details, especially anything pertaining to her kids, but she was candid about her feelings and the challenges of going through such a personal thing in the public eye. In an Oct. 2020 interview with Entertainment Tonight, she called the split “horribly sad,” adding: “The thing that’s been kind of hard to navigate is I am an open book, but at some point, I’m a mama bear more than I am a person in the public eye. So I care 100 percent more about my children than I do anything else on this planet.”

Contractual disputes

In Sept. 2020, amidst the divorce proceedings, Starstruck Entertainment, the management company owned by Blackstock’s father, sued Clarkson. They accused her of allegedly breaching her “oral” management contract and owing over $1.4 million in commissions. On top of that, the firm claimed it “developed Clarkson into a mega superstar” and would likely be owed $5.4 million in commissions by the end of the year. Clarkson filed a response to the suit to the California Labor Commission in Nov. 2020 — but the dispute would fall by the wayside for the next three years.

Clarkson awarded primary custody

Also in Nov. 2020, a judge awarded Clarkson primary custody of her and Blackstock’s two kids. In the ruling, the judge said “that under the circumstances present in this case, the interest in providing stability and continuity for the minor children weighs in favor” of Clarkson (though Blackstock was still allowed to visit and was granted certain holidays with their kids). The filing also noted that “the level of conflict between the parents has increased. The parties have a difficult time co-parenting due to issues of trust between them.” 

Clarkson declared legally single

In July 2021, as the official divorce proceedings were still technically dragging on, Clarkson asked a judge to declare her legally single. In a court filing, she said that the couple’s “irreconcilable differences” had caused their marriage to “irretrievably break down,” adding: “No counseling or reconciliation effort will be of any value at this time.” The filing did strike a conciliatory note, however, with Clarkson saying she and Blackstock “both deserve the opportunity to build a new life.”

The request was granted the following month. 

Divorce finalized

Almost two years after first filing, Clarkson and Blackstock’s divorce was officially finalized in March 2022. The final ruling did come down pretty hard on Clarkson, though: She was ordered to pay Blackstock a one-time lump sum of over $1.3 million, $45,000 a month in child support, and $115,000 a month in spousal support until Jan. 31, 2024. The pair also agreed to joint custody of their kids, though the two would live primarily with Clarkson in Los Angeles. 

Court documents detailed a variety of other items divvied up between the two. While Clarkson got the family pets and a flight simulator, Blackstock was awarded their “farm cattle, livestock, stock dogs, and horses” (ostensibly from the ranch they shared in Montana), a couple of snowmobiles, and some Patek Philippe watches. 

Break-up album incoming

A few months after the divorce was finalized, in Sept. 2022, Clarkson told Variety that she was getting ready to release her first album of all-new material since 2017’s Meaning of Life. The singer revealed, too, that the LP would very much be a divorce album, acknowledging she’d started working on it two years prior, just as proceedings were getting underway.

“My producer and I were laughing yesterday because I was like, ‘Remember that time we wrote, like, 25 songs in a week?’” Clarkson recalled. “A lot of those are the ones that are on the album. I literally wrote most of these almost two years ago. Then I told my label, ‘I can’t talk about this until I’ve gone through it,’ and it’s just taken some time to do that. That’s one of the reasons we’ve done a lot of Christmas stuff the past two years — because I was like, ‘Well, that’s happy!’”

The Chemistry era

Clarkson officially announced her new album, Chemistry, in March 2023 — pointedly one year after her divorce was finalized — and it arrived a few months later on June 23. In a four-star review, Ilana Kaplan wrote for Rolling Stone: “Clarkson’s healing journey isn’t linear or without its sharp edges — it’s a twisty roller coaster burning with grief, rage, and regret. After all, hell hath no fury like a pop star scorned.”

Clarkson carried that Chemistry energy to the stage. A few days after announcing the album, on The Kelly Clarkson Show, she covered Gayle’s hit “Abcdefu” with a few lyrical tweaks to both appease daytime TV censors and to be about her divorce. Even bolder, in August, she transformed her own 2015 song, “Piece by Piece,” from a devotional anthem about Blackstock into one of self-empowerment. 

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A belated victory 

In Nov. 2023, three years after Clarkson took Blackstock and Starstruck to task in front of the California Labor Commission, she emerged victorious, with the board ruling Blackstock charged Clarkson for business deals he wasn’t licensed to seek. In California, managers cannot act as agents, and as such, Clarkson successfully argued that Blackstock must return commissions he received for securing the singer contracts with The Voice, Norwegian Cruise Lines, the Billboard Music Awards, and even her Wayfair commercials. In total, the court said Blackstock owed Clarkson $2.6 million. 

Blackstock appealed the decision, arguing he and Starstruck deserve a separate trial on the matter. With that decision still pending, Clarkson decided to fire off another salvo: In March 2024, she filed a cross-complaint in response to Starstruck’s original 2020 lawsuit, seeking to affirm the Labor Commission’s ruling and potentially expand the $2.6 million she was awarded. 

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