The yearlong divorce battle between Melanie “Mel B” Brown and Stephen Belafonte has been a doozy. Thanks to claims of forced threesomes, drug abuse, his fathering a child with the nanny during the marriage, and more, it already ranks among the most bitter of Hollywood splits.
The former Spice Girl and Belafonte, who has worked as a producer, married June 6, 2007, after a few months of dating. In September 2011, they welcomed a daughter, Madison, whom they raised along with Brown’s daughters from previous relationships, Angel and Phoenix. But after 10 years together, Mel B made the move to end the union. Since she filed for a divorce, the allegations have flown back and forth faster than the Spice Girls could sell out a concert arena in 1997.
This primer will bring you up to speed.
Why they split and how it turned messy
“Irreconcilable differences” is the official reason, because that’s what Mel B wrote in the divorce papers she filed. But then, on April 3, 2017, a court awarded the singer a restraining order against her ex after she alleged that Belafonte had been mentally and physically abusive to her throughout their marriage. She said Belafonte had punched her and slammed her into the floor on many occasions. He repeatedly criticized her body and her intellect, Mel B said.
Also, she said in the papers, he forced her to have sex with him and other women. If she objected, he would threaten to make secretly recorded videos of their sexual exploits public, she said. And there was more: Brown reported that Belafonte impregnated their nanny and then used Brown’s money for an abortion.
“So, I forced her to have threesomes? OK,” he told the newspaper. “You know what my comment to this is actually, because that is the mother of my children, I really really really am really distraught in my brain at how this is going to affect our children. In the depths that she’s gone to, that’s it. I’m really shocked at those allegations and that’s what it is.”
A court prohibited Belafonte from releasing any sex tapes of Mel B. Meanwhile, Brown also received a restraining order against the nanny, Lorraine Gilles, and a court order to search a public locker where those sex tapes were located. (Gilles had her own court battle with Brown.)
Who got what
As the two slung accusations back and forth, they also divvied up their assets, which was a tough fight all on its own. Especially when Brown quickly shot down Belafonte’s request for emergency spousal support shortly after filing for divorce. He asked for $4,300 a month for groceries, $2,000 a month for clothes, $11,000 a month for housing, and $750 per month for a cell phone, to start. She wasn’t having it.
They had a whole other set of issues when it came to custody of their girls. Belafonte asked for joint custody of Madison, as well as visitation rights for Angel, whose father is Eddie Murphy, although Belafonte has been in her life since she was 2 months old.
In November, Brown withdrew her restraining order. She and Belafonte also settled other matters in their divorce, which stipulated the following: He would destroy any sex tapes of her; she would pay him an undisclosed amount of spousal support for three years; they would split the money they made from selling their house; and they would share custody of their daughter. (TMZ later reported that the amount is $180,000 per year for the next three years.)
When the divorce was finally granted, Belafonte told reporters, “I am happy. I got everything I wanted. She put me through the worst hell ever. But now it’s all over — I hope.”
Why it’s still going on
Belafonte did not get his wish, mostly because of his ongoing fight for visitation rights with his stepdaughter, Angel. Brown filed papers this month to deny him such visits, citing questionable parenting skills. She claimed, for instance, that he had shown their daughters ISIS beheading videos. (Phoenix, 19, backed her up: “He got us all to watch men being beheaded with chainsaws by ISIS, as we were in the kitchen and he was cooking,” Phoenix said in the court docs.)
In his response, Belafonte said his ex-wife is trying to turn Murphy’s daughter against him, making up stories about his abusing her. He alleged that the injuries Brown claimed she received from beatings were actually sustained during bouts with drugs and alcohol. He accused her of drinking so much that she often tried to urinate on the couch in front of their girls.
He also denied the allegation that Brown made about him having allowed their daughters to watch ISIS beheading videos.
Even outside of court, the hate between the two is real. Case in point: Last month, Brown not-so-subtly accused Belafonte, whom she called #monsterdevil, of putting a knife in her tire.
Expect the drama to continue inside and outside of the courtroom.
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