Kelly Clarkson is no doubt the most successful winner of a singing talent competition in the United States. After winning the first season of “American Idol” in 2002, Kelly leveraged her win, the prize money and the record deal, to start a music career that has soared over the years, and earned her a place in the entertainment industry as a revered singer, songwriter, talk show host, multiple-awards winner, and talent competition judge. In 2016, 14 years after winning “American Idol,” Kelly Clarkson treated the judges, contestants and audience of the competition’s 15th season to an emotional performance of her song “Piece by Piece.” In the soul-stirring performance, which had judge Keith Urban and most of the audience in tears, Kelly bared her heart as she sang to her husband, Brandon Blackstock.

As anyone who has seen the performance concedes, Kelly’s love and adoration for Brandon was palpable in Kelly’s voice as she sang t, which she wrote to celebrate him for his role as a good partner to her and a great father to their children. Watching her sing, no one would have thought that in just four years, the couple would be embroiled in a vicious court battle over the custody of their children and property division after Kelly filed for divorce. The quick disintegration of their marriage from a happy union to a ruthless and ugly battle often leaves fans of the beloved singer wondering what happened between Kelly Clarkson and Brandon Blackstock. Here is a timeline of the couple’s relationship, and the reason for their separation.

Love at First Sight

From a young age, Kelly Clarkson was afraid of love after watching her father walk out on his family. Her mother moved on and remarried, but Kelly never healed from her father’s abandonment. When she was 16, she started to write a song about it entitled “Because of You”, and released it as part of her second album. In the song, she admitted that she could never give herself fully to any relationship because of her father, a fact that rang true for all her relationships. In fact, her detachment from the partners she dated often had her thinking that she could be asexual. All that changed when she met Brandon Blackstock.

Kelly saw Brandon for the first time six years before their first date. Kelly and a friend had attended the rehearsals for the “Academy of Country Music Awards” while Brandon, a talent manager, was there with some of his clients. The two didn’t speak, but Kelly was floored when she set eyes on him. She just knew that she would end up with the mystery man, having experienced a primal sexual attraction toward a man for the first time in her life. Kelly joked that she was ready to throw all caution to the wind and be with Brandon but he didn’t notice her, possibly because he was married at the time.

Fate worked overtime to bring Kelly’s mystery man to her. First, she signed with Brandon’s father Narvel Blackstone, as her manager. Second, her manager, who would later become her father-in-law, secured Kelly the coveted responsibility of singing the National Anthem at the Super Bowl in 2012, and third, Brandon was now divorced and Kelly was single. Brandon was there with some of his clients, but as soon as Kelly saw the man of her dreams, her nerves kicked in. She was more nervous about talking to him than she was about singing the national anthem in front of millions of people. At the end of the game, Kelly was elated when Brandon asked her out, and by the end of the year, they were engaged.

No Longer Miss Independent

Kelly was happy to shed her self-proclaimed miss independent status, and settle down as soon as Brandon popped the question in December 2012. An elated Kelly took to Twitter to announce the news and reveal to fans that Brandon had proposed on a quiet evening with just the two of them relaxing in their house in Nashville. The two walked down the aisle in October of the following year, with a beaming Kelly officially declaring herself Mrs Blackstone. Within a month, Kelly announced that she was expecting their first child, and the couple welcomed River Rose in 2014, and second born Remington Alexander two years later. 

Kelly’s candor is one of the qualities that endear her to fans, alongside her angelic voice and ability to turn any song she writes or covers into a masterpiece. Over the course of her seven-year-long marriage, she was candid about the difficult times in her relationship with Blackstone. However, she was just as quick to acknowledge the good times, which she immortalized in her song “Piece by Piece,” in which she compared Brandon to her father, and reveals that she found a man who would stay. Unfortunately, the song did not age well. One line in particular, about how Brandon never asks for money would be disproved in just a few years, when he made ridiculous demands for alimony, child support, and part of Kelly’s Estate.

The Breakaway

When the Covid-19 pandemic hit in 2020, and most outdoor activities were restricted, Kelly, Brandon and their children went to her ranch in Montana. In May that year, Kelly appreciated Brandon for helping her film virtual episodes of her show, but less than a month later, Kelly shocked her fans when she filed for divorce, citing irreconcilable differences. As soon as she filed the papers, Brandon went from being the person who doted on her too much that she joked that he drained her creativity, to making her write sappy lyrics to her nemesis, who was fighting her in court for custody of their children and part of her fortune.

For two years, Kelly and Brandon and their lawyers were in and out of courts, negotiating their divorce. Kelly was hoping to keep most of her wealth, which was protected by a pre-nuptial agreement signed by the couple, while Brandon was hoping for a large portion of her large pie. According to insiders, Brandon kept pushing for more every time Clarkson met some of his demands. For instance, when Kelly agreed to pay all of their children’s expenses, including travel costs when they traveled to see Brandon on weekends and holidays, he pushed for alimony and child support. Similarly, when Brandon learned that Kelly intended to sell her ranch in Montana, which is registered to her and was not matrimonial property, he petitioned the court to stop her, claiming that he wanted to quit his job as a talent manager to become a rancher. The judge granted his request, but awarded Kelly majority ownership of the property and asked Brandon to pay its monthly maintenance costs.

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Eventually, the impasse ended and the couple agreed on a settlement. Court records show that Brandon, whose net worth is only a fifth of Kelly’s $50 million empire, asked for over $300,000 in spousal and child support, but the court brought his alimony down to $115,000 – the payments, which were based on the length of the marriage, will run until January 2024.

In addition to the spousal support, Kelly paid a one-off fee of over $1.3 million towards Brandon’s legal fees, and will pay Brandon $45,601 in child support. The couple divided assets, with Kelly maintaining ownership of most of their shared assets, including 95% of their ranch in Montana, while Brandon got some vehicles, all the animals on the ranch, and his watches. Their divorce was finalized in 2022, freeing Kelly from the marriage that she had hoped would last forever.

Musical Jabs

Since her divorce was finalized, Kelly has spoken candidly about healing from a relationship that she had hoped would last forever. One of the most important lessons she has drawn from the process is the realization that she doesn’t need anyone to feel loved or complete. The realization was too profound that it was included in her album “Rock Hudson,” a line about joining all the pieces only to find out that she was her own hero all along.” As she got bolder, Kelly has thrown several jabs at her ex-husband and his family. During a performance for the “Kellyoke” section of her show, Kelly made a dig at her former father-in-law, with whom she’s embroiled in a legal battle over unpaid commissions, by changing the lyrics to Gayle’s “ABCDEF” to call out Brandon for taking part of her fortune, adding that she would turn her broken heart into art. In another “Kellyoke” session, Kelly called Brandon out for spreading lies about her on the internet through her cover of “Happier than Ever.” 


Beyond Kelly’s bold jabs at her ex- and his family, she has bounced back from the divorce in style. After all, as she predicted in one of her most popular songs, ‘what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.’ She has written over 25 songs since the divorce, and just released her new album “Chemistry”, in June 2023, which debuted at number six on Billboard 200 and follows the timeline of her relationship with Brandon. Unfortunately for fans who hoped to catch her on a tour of the new album, the singer is spending more time with her children and filming her show, and won’t embark on a “Chemistry” tour. Luckily, they can still catch her in Vegas on her 10-show residency from the end of July to late August. For now, Kelly Clarkson and her kids are settling down into their new home in New York, and she’s content just hosting her show and going home to wind down with them after work and school.

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