Beyonce and Jay Z: Planning for Divorce?

One of the wealthiest couples may be heading for divorce. Beyonce and Jay Z are reportedly not wearing their wedding rings on their current tour and it has been rumoured that Beyonce has begun apartment hunting in Manhattan. Furthermore, Beyonce reportedly met with a group of financial advisers to discuss her "assets as a single lady" as reported by Hollywood Gossip.

While Jay-Z chose to "put a ring on it", the ring has disappeared from sight on her current tour. The question remains, what would the divorce look like? Let's take an Ontarian legal look at the potential divorce.

Governing Legislation

The Divorce Act and Family Law Act are the two statutes that would provide the framework for the divorce if it were to occur in Ontario.

Child Support

It is well known that Beyonce and Jay Z have had one child together - Blue Ivy. It is clear that this child will grow up in a financially stable home regardless of the parenting plan that is reached between Beyonce and Jay Z. Nonetheless, section 15.3 of the Divorce Act expressly provides that the courts must give priority to orders for child support before awarding spousal support.

In Ontario, the amount of child support to be paid is determined in accordance with the Child Support Guidelines which takes into account:

  1. the number of children; and
  2. the income of the payor.

The court must also take into consideration the time the child spends with each parent and, if time is split between the two parents, the child support calculation becomes more complex.

If Blue Ivy were to spend more than 60% of the time with either Beyonce or Jay-Z, the amount of child support to be paid by the other would be extreme. If the Court adhered to the Child Support Guidelines, the payor would be ordered to pay $1254 plus 0.74% of any income over $150,000. Remember that these numbers are based on an annual income, and, although 0.74% looks like a small percentage, it definitely is not. For example, if Beyonce or Jay-Z only earned $1,150,000, the payor would have to pay monthly child support in the amount of $1254 + $7,400. That is a total of $8,654 dollars per month, and we all know that their incomes far exceed these figures.

Secondly, any special expenses would be split between the parties according to their annual incomes, and we all know that the children of the rich and famous often do some of the most expensive and outrageous activities.

Spousal Support

The objectives of spousal support are outlined in section 15.2(6) of the Divorce Act. The legislation recognizes four goals to be promoted by orders for spousal support:

  1. recognizing economic advantages or disadvantages arising from the marriage or its breakdown;
  2. apportion financial consequences arising from child care;
  3. relive economic hardship arising from marriage breakdown; and
  4. in so far as practicable, promote economic self-sufficiency within a reasonable period of time.

Although I am sure that some interesting arguments may be crafted by either counsel, one may presume that neither party will be required to pay spousal support given their significant respective incomes.

Equalization Payment

The process of equalization in Ontario is outlined in sections 4 and 5 of Ontario's Family Law Act. To summarize in the most basic form, the steps to calculate the equalization payment are:

  1. Determine the valuation date (defined in s. 4) - in this case, the date of separation;
  2. Determine what property was owned by each spouse on V-day;
  3. Determine whether any property constitutes excluded property (s. 4(2));
  4. Assign values to property;
  5. Determine the value of deductions (s. 4);
  6. Calculate each spouse's Net Family Property (NFP), and determine the amount that is one-half the difference between the greater and the lesser (s. 5(1)); and
  7. Assess any claim for entitlement to more than one-half the difference (s. 5(6)).

Thus, in Ontario, it is not a discussion of "you get the cottage and I get the home", but, rather, a mathematical calculation. This does not mean that property cannot exchange hands to satisfy the "debt" owed.

In the case of Beyonce and Jay-Z, given their extensive list of assets and sources of income, the process to reach who owes the other and in what amount is complex and will be left to their respective counsels. I am sure, however, that neither will suffer from such an Order given their vast financial resources.

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