Melissa Etheridge’s ex files for full custody, says she has $4 left

June 21, 2010 - New York, New York, U.S. - MELISSA ETHERIDGE performs at the Hard Rock Cafe for The Recording Academy's ''Grammy Artists Revealed'' series NYC 06-21-2010 Photos by  Rangefinder- Photos Inc.  2010.MELISSA ETHERIDGE .K65221RM. © Red Carpet Pictures
Things are heating up in the high profile split between singer Melissa Etheridge, 49, and her partner of nine years, Tammy Lynn Michaels, 35. Etheridge recently filed to dissolve the partnership (the two were not legally married), which came as a surprise to Michaels, who blogged that Etheridge was breaking a promise not to file until the fall. Michaels also made it clear that she gave up her acting career to raise her now three year-old twins with Etheridge. According to Michaels, Etheridge emotionally and physically withdrew from the relationship and then left her high and dry without providing for the children’s welfare. She claimed that she’s been forced to borrow money from friends to pay for gas and food.

In her filing Etheridge sought joint custody of the children without spousal support for Michaels. In response Michaels filed for full custody, claiming that Etheridge wasn’t around enough to be an effective parent, and is seeking spousal support. What’s more is that Michaels’ lawyer claims his client has just $4 left, while Etheridge’s lawyer counters that she’s still paying the bills.

Melissa Etheridge has left Tammy Lynn Michaels and the two children they have together high and dry … this according to Tammy’s lawyer Steven Knowles. But Melissa says Tammy is delusional.

Knowles tells TMZ Tammy has a grand total of $4 to her name … adding, “Melissa has not been treating Tammy or the children as if they are a wife and children, financially and otherwise.”

Knowles says Melissa has not given Tammy or the kids a penny since the breakup … and she is now destitute.

TMZ broke the story, Melissa filed for dissolution of her domestic partnership with Tammy last week.

On Tuesday, Tammy filed her own legal docs … but she is asking for a dissolution of marriage. According to Knowles, even though Tammy and Melissa were not legally married in California, “They were married in their own eyes and in the eyes of the world … and Melissa was the first to say they were, in fact, married.”

BTW – Tammy is asking for spousal support – something she can’t get if she is not “married.”

As we first told you, Melissa wants joint custody … but Tammy is asking for full legal and physical custody.

Knowles tells us Melissa can’t possibly be a participant in the custody agreement because her schedule makes it impossible to be a meaningful parent.

Melissa’s lawyer, Neal Hersh, tells TMZ, “Melissa is paying all of Tammy’s expenses, which totals tens of thousands of dollars per month.”

[From TMZ]

Let’s assume that Etheridge’s lawyer is telling the truth and that she’s still paying for the mortgage and utilities on the home where Michaels and the children are living. (At least that’s how I interpreted that statement. Etheridge might be giving her money for incidentals, but it doesn’t sound like it.) If that’s the case, why can’t she also give her money for gas, food and living expenses? Many of you warned me in our last story not to just believe Michaels’ account that she was dead broke and to question whether she was telling the truth or not. I’m on Michaels’ side now and do believe that it went down that way and that she has no money left. None of us know what went on in that marriage (and it deserves to be called one) that caused it to end but if it’s true that Etheridge is leaving Michaels without a dime that’s despicable.

Amid all this mess things may pick up for Michaels’ career. She’s slated to star in a same sex romantic comedy, Nicest Thing, directed by Amanda Bearse. (Marcy from Married… with Children. Can you believe it?) Wikipedia has the film starting production this year.

BEVERLY HILLS, CA - JUNE 26:  Musician Melissa Etheridge (L) and her partner Tammy Lynn Michaels arrive at a special screening of The Weinstein Company's 'SiCKO' at the Samuel Goldwyn Theatre on June 26, 2007 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

LOS ANGELES - FEBRUARY 13:  Singer Melissa Etheridge (right) and girlfriend Tammy Lynn Michaels arrive to the 47th Annual Grammy Awards at the Staples Center on February 13, 2005 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

LOS ANGELES, CA - APRIL 18:  Singer Melissa Etheridge (L) and Tammy Lynn Michaels arrives at the ASCAP Pop Music Awards at the Kodak Theatre on April 18, 2007 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Michael Buckner/Getty Images)

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53 Responses to “Melissa Etheridge’s ex files for full custody, says she has $4 left”

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  1. jen says:

    Didn’t she do something similar to Lou Diamond Phillip’s ex-wife?

  2. Tess says:

    She’s revealing herself to be selfish, a low-life, and probably crazy.

  3. Dorothy says:

    omg! Since when is 4 million broke????

  4. This sickens me. I was a huge fan, now I can’t stand to hear her songs. Grow up, grow up! Act like you care about your children even if you can not care about your former WIFE!
    Celebitchy: Thank you, thank you so much for respecting this “partnership” enough to call it a marriage! Often I feel like it is two steps forward three steps back for me and my long term partner (in terms of ever getting to be an actual legal couple) and when people show support it touches my heart and renews my hope. 🙂

  5. Yes, she did the same thing with her ex!

  6. mhjmc says:

    Wow so Melissa is just like a guy .. who’d a thunk?? I feel for Tammy, it seems Melissa has her own agenda and probably a new girl she wants to be with. I feel Tammy was always too good for Melissa, I hope she gets this resolved and Melissa is forced to pay up.

  7. manda says:

    Tammy was in a show on the WB (I think?) called Popular that I really enjoyed circa 1999/2000, and she was really good. I hope she comes out of this unscathed.

  8. LindyLou says:

    I know I’ve said this before but Tammy Lynn needs to stop whining and GET A J.O.B. She is 50% responsible for those children and until all the court stuff is settled, she needs to step up.

  9. Chrissy says:

    It’s always a great sign when one side is calling the other delusional. Looks like Melissa continues to take the low road … disgusting.

  10. JaisyMaisy says:

    @ Dorothy: I don’t think that said $4 million…I think it just said $4 dollars. $4.00. And that is pretty broke.

  11. mln says:

    I wonder if Tammy will be able to find work again she is now famous for getting dumped by Melissa and that may overshadow any chance at a career. On the other hand Melissa is a rockstar with a huge following . I am sure she will move on and play house with a new and younger wife she should have paid uup and kept the whole thing quiet.

  12. tooey says:

    Nice to know ladies can be douchebags, too…

  13. Po says:

    I think that this was a marriage and if Melissa Ethridge was content with this woman staying at home to care for the children while they were still together than it is totally unreasonable to leave her without any living expenses whatsoever. I think the only reason she did that was to set the precedent that she did not believe that her ex was entitled to spousal support. This way when they get to court the Judge won’t see that Melissa paid her anything (outside of the bills that are probably in Melissa’s name). To me she is acting as if this wasn’t a marriage and I find that to be disgusting. But it does show you that at the end of the day its all about money for some people and she wants to make sure she parts with as little as possible.

  14. snowball says:

    @LindyLou – read above. Tammy does have a J.O.B. She’s supposed to star in a movie? Picking up her acting career again? That’s what she does? What do you want her to do? Waitress?

    I’ve lost so much respect for Melissa, it’s sad. She’s behaved in such a classless way, I don’t even care who’s “fault” the breakup was, there are kids involved and she’s actually written SONGS about this crap? Considering all of the unconditional support Tammy gave her when Melissa needed it the most, this just strikes me as so extra cold. Ugh.

    How sad that she fought so hard to have the right to be married, but now it would seem that she’s awfully happy she’s not, since she won’t have to go through the whole alimony crap that the rest of us have to suffer through. She’s turning out to be quite the cheap bitch – wants the cake but will be damned if anyone gets a carry out bag.

  15. Cinderella says:

    Dorothy: She has four dollars left according to her lawyer.

    Melissa needs to do the right thing and pay Tammy a one-time settlement. Something to at least tide her over for a year. As far as the kids, Melissa should pay child support. If she doesn’t, I hope her fans take notice.

  16. Dorothy says:

    OH! LOL!! it is too early to be reading! HAHA Thanks ladies!

  17. Attagirl says:

    Seems like the more money people have the stingier they become. Some of the poorest people I’ve known have also been the most generous…

  18. MSat says:

    If Tammy and Melissa had no children, of course I would say that Tammy needs to go out and get herself a job. But those little kids are used to having their mom at home, and the worst thing for them right now, amid all this divorce stuff, would be for Tammy to start working outside the home and leaving the kids with a sitter or in day care. The kids are probably already experiencing some abandonment issues with Melissa being gone so much.

    Melissa needs to do what’s best for those children, and right now that is to take care of their mother until they get through the initial seperation.

  19. Marjalane says:

    It’ll be interesting to see how this plays out- if Melissa Etheridge gets trashed for her selfishness the way a man would in this situation. Obviously they lived their life the same way many Hollywood couples do- the famous one makes the money and the “wife” raises the family and keeps the homefront going, and in those relationships, the breadwinner is forced by the courts, (if not his own sense of decency) to pay up. I was appalled to see that M.E. specifically asked that her “partner” not be given support! There may be other circumstances, but what I heard is, “Our relatioship was not the same as a hetero relationship, and I don’t want to be responsible for my partner or the family we created.”


  20. The story says 4 dollars, not 4 million dollars.

  21. Leticia says:

    MSat, totally agree with you.

    Etheridge must be a selfish narcissist indeed, just like most of the other famous people. I really think that celebrities can be even meaner than the general public..

  22. jc126 says:

    My guess is that Tammy M. is probably exaggerating the amount of money she has left, and she has like $4.00 in a checking account, but a fair amount of money in savings.
    Things get so exaggerated in some of these splits, it’s hard to say what the truth is, but I will say that I never thought Melissa Etheridge seemed THAT interested when I saw her speak about the kids from her relationship with Julie Cipher. I mean, she probably wanted them and loves them, but the way she spoke, she seemed somewhat detached. It was strange. But I doubt she’d let the kids starve.

  23. Feebee says:

    Even if Etheridge is paying the mortgage and utilities for the home that’s the least she should be doing, otherwise she steps towards the deadbeat mom label.

    That doesn’t mean Michaels has any disposable money and if she’s being truthful in that she has $4 to her name, that’s harsh.

    I can’t imagine how soul destroying it must be to have to beg your ex for money until you can get yourself organised and get a pay-cheque. Money for the kids doesn’t mean money for her.

  24. Guest says:

    I agree with those who have said this was a marriage. However, legally speaking it is not recognized that way. Melissa’s lawyer was therefore correct in filing to end dissolve the partnership. Of course this also benefits her in that no spousal support can be granted where no marriage is being dissolved. But vice versa, Tammy is filing to end the “marriage” because she wants to get the spousal support. It will be up to a judge to figure out how to clasify this, but under law it should be classified as a partnership only.

    Beyond that I’m still not sure why everyone is willing to believe Tammy over Melissa without proof. Melissa’s lawyer says she is paying “all expenses.” How this gets interpreted as just home/mortgage is beyond me. I would interpret it as all expenses – car, food, home, etc. IF Melissa has left her high and dry, that’s awful, but let’s wait for proof before deciding to hate on her for it.

  25. bored says:

    Melissa wanted Tammy to be a stay at home mom and wife and now she should have to pay for it, like any man in the same situation would.

  26. TQB says:

    @Marjalane, I hear the same thing you did. It’s horrifying and appalling that Etheridge would do such a thing (act like this wasn’t a marriage) after going so far as to threaten to stop paying taxes until the government recognized her relationship with tammy as a marriage. Now she’s going to exploit the absence of a legal marriage? I don’t care whether Tammy has $4 or $400K, this should get resolved as the dissolution of an 8 year marriage that produced 2 kids.

  27. denise says:

    How cruel of Melissa esp. after Tammi stuck by her side thru her illness. And I thought women were supposed to be more sensitive.

  28. Jo 'Mama' Besser says:

    Please tell me she has her own separate bank account.

  29. Raven says:

    Tammy was a golddigger and crazy on top of it. Maybe it was Tammy’s idea to stay home, not Melissa’s. Tammy seemed to have plenty of time to blog a lot of insane nonsense. Maybe Melissa got tired of having an additional child to support instead of a partner.

  30. sas says:

    This would be funny if it weren’t so sad.

    What I got from interviews, etc around the time of the twins was that Melissa didn’t really want more kids anyway, but was not going to keep Tammy from having them “when all of her friends were having them”. That’s a ‘sort of’ quote from MLE. I feel that MLE sanctioned the kids as a way of thanking Tammy for helping her through the cancer. I wish I had the interview as evidence. Drat.

    And, no. While I don’t believe everything these media reports are spewing, I do not believe that Melissa would leave (anybodies) babies to wither up and die. I also do believe that Tammy is an ACTRESS! That’s what she does… And she must be getting better at it if you all fall for this crap! $4. Pul-eeze.

  31. bellaluna says:

    It never ceases to amaze me how cruel people who once loved each other can be to one another. And that crosses all boundaries: same-sex, opposite-sex; it just doesn’t seem to matter when it comes to being mean.

  32. sas says:

    …and… maybe that’s why they didn’t get married when they had the chance? Maybe Melissa had the clue that she needed to run from this?

  33. CadieBelle says:

    Tammy needs to go out and get a job – just like millions of other single moms

  34. Persistent Cat says:

    I still don’t buy it. I’m with JC126, I’m sure the amount was exaggerated. Just like borrowing $1.25 for gas.

    For the love of God, why can’t anyone keep this stuff to themselves. Don’t blog about it, don’t give interviews to TMZ, just STFU about it and have some dignity.

  35. catharinethegreat says:

    I don’t buy the negative PR from Tammy Lynn. I understand she’s hurt and probably feeling emotionally desperate at the end of their relationship.
    I don’t believe that ME is not paying expenses for her children. If she isn’t giving incidental $ to her ex maybe its because she has embarked on a loud-mouthed indiscreet ranting crusade to damage ME’s rep. She has probably more access to potential income than an average person at any rate.
    I say she needs to keep it out of the press, play nice and figure out which side her bread is buttered on.
    As Sandra Bullock said (loose paraphrase) “who the hell decided how high the high road had to be?”

  36. ctkat says:

    Well it is obvious that this is going to be a nasty split. I don’t know the truth, but I am willing to bet that this is all coming from a) really hurt feelings on Tammy’s part, and b) really being over it on Melissa’s part.

    The reality is that Tammy probably wants Melissa to continue to financially provide the exact same lifestyle as when they were married, and Melissa probably wants Tammy to start supporting herself and the children part-time.
    Either way, a judge or mediator has to work this out.

    I would imagine that they will get joint legal custody, Tammy will get physical custody, and Melissa will pay child support (probably around $10-$20k per month).

    So Melissa will be supporting Tammy and the kids, but Tammy will have to downgrade to living on $120,000-$240,000 per year, rather than the $1,000,000+ I am sure they have been living on as a married family.

    As for spousal support, I think she is owed something (house, car, some savings, etc. accumulated during the marriage) but I’m not sure what the legal situation is.

    In sum, it’s a mess.

  37. yomama says:

    I’ve heard from folks who have been around her that M.E. is really bitchy… this isn’t really surprising me at all.

  38. Jeri says:

    Whoa Melissa! I thought you were a better person then that. Can’t be with someone for years, then deceide you’re done & leave her with no funds, regardless if the mortgage is paid.

  39. jc126 says:

    I have to say, it’s surprising most people are assuming that TLM’s version of events is true – do those rambling poems she writes sound very rational?

  40. d says:

    I’m mostly on Tammy’s side. But ME’s move seems so…FINAL that I can’t help but wonder what motivated it because it seems obvious to me that SOMETHING did. I mean, NO support? That’s a message. I just can’t decide if ME is being a complete A-hole or if she has cause. I understand that being a f-t mom is well, f-t, so it may not have been easy for her to get a job. It just seems all so weird.

  41. Jaxx says:

    I agree with MSat, the worst thing that could happen to those kids right now is to be thrown into daycare and lose their mother’s care while they are experiencing upheaval in their home. Melissa may not be legally required to pay spousal support but she damn sure should give Tammy a lump sum settlement large enough to give her a year or so to establish herself as a single woman again. It goes without saying she will pay child support but the mother has needs too. If Melissa doesn’t help her establish a home for those children after all the support Tammy gave her then she deserves to be shamed and abandoned by her fans.

  42. lucy2 says:

    If Tammy gave up her career to raise children they both wanted, and that was their agreement, and she’s now the custodial parent of the kids, then I feel she’s definitely entitled to financial support.
    I do think she should quit blogging about it, and should just deal with it legally, though I suspect she’s probably trying to raise her profile as she gets back into acting.
    I always liked her on Popular, but never saw her in anything else, though I know she worked quite a bit before stopping.

  43. jenl1125 says:

    @attagirl: I agree with you. People with money can certainly be quite generous, but I have found that people who don’t have much are often very giving and understanding. They know what it’s like to go without.

  44. Monica says:

    A few years ago Etheridge was on an awards show where she referred to Michaels as her “wife”. She declared it – now she should have to stand by it and consider herself as having been married. She can’t have it both ways.

  45. skeptical says:

    ok… i remember having Tammy referred to as Melissa’s wife, even by Melissa herself.

    I also remember Melissa going on a fine rant about how she wanted to stop paying her taxes since she didn’t get equal rights.

    And NOW she says it’s just a partnership?

    F.U. Melissa Etheridge. PAY UP!!!

  46. Richi says:

    Is it $4Mil or just $4???

  47. Mia says:

    It’s 4 dollars, not 4 million. That is obscene.

    Tammy Lynn is a knockout, curvy, real looking very beautiful woman who seems blindsided by ME’s cold hearted actions.

    ME needs to take care of her kids, and her kids’ mother for real. If this is the woman who saw her through her cancer scare, well, I just don’t get what went wrong but I’m Team Tammy at present too.

    Hope her new show works out, and is a hit. Would love to see something pro woman come out of the misogynist Married With Children show from Amanda. Tammy Lynn is going to be believable as a gorgeous real life lesbian instead of a faux lipstick lesbian like Catty Perry, if that’s how she’s cast.

  48. sas says:

    “We don’t think alike.” I believe was one of MLE’s quote re: the separation. All the stuff I’ve read on MLE (and, yes, it’s been a fairly large amount) has always characterized MLE as being a very giving person to family (supporting them all), friends, and fans (who the heck gives away guitars at CD parties in every state she has them?), so I have to think there was a major rift here (not a drift) in thought process for MLE to sound so harsh re: $$. Was Tammy being too greedy? I’d get a little tired of supporting everyone and their mother too… (only a turn of a phrase – I do think the kids’ mother should be supported at least until the kids are self sufficient/in school.)

  49. Francesca says:

    I am surprised that so many people are willing to believe Tammy’s story and judge Melissa. No one can know what has happened between them. Melissa was very generous to Julie, her previous partner, giving her half of what she had. Certainly she will support the kids which means that Tammy will be well off as long as the kids are with her (BTW many couples who divorce choose not to pay alimony – which is taxable – and instead put all the $ in child support which is not). Melissa’s choice might not to give spousal support might have come from similar thinking, as a way to PROTECT Tammy. After all, she had to know it would be a PR nightmare. In my opinion Tammy took advantage of the situation to cry wolf and get back at Melissa, something quite in character if you read her old blogs. I say, give Melissa a chance to explain herself.

  50. Team Melissa says:

    Tammy is playing the victim here very well & making Melissa look like a monster. If Tammy felt that her independence was slipping away from her, Tammy could have done something about it. Tammy must have felt very comfortable to have Melissa pay for everything and now that the relationship is very much over, is using it against Melissa. Do you honestly believe its ok for Tammy to sponge off Melissa and she must continue to do so?
    I think Melissa just ended it and went straight for the dissolving of the partnership because she is must be sick and tired of Tammy’s extremely childish behaviour of using blogs to vent her anger as well as her demands. I think Tammy is trouble, I could see it when I saw the DVD’s that melissa did of her tours. Tammy scored with a sugar mommy and thought she could cash in big time.
    Do you honestly think that Tammy is broke? Please, come on, after all this time, she didn’t have quite a comfortable cushion of money in her bank account? She must have been living the high life, spending her money on her every desire. Now that the break up is getting nasty, Tammy could be thinking, ‘Oh no I don’t have any more money, what do I do now? I know…plead bankruptcy and demand money from my ex. If that doesn’t work I will just file for full custody and make Melissa look like she doesn’t care about her kids or my well being’
    Melissa must support her kids; that is a given but why should she pay for Tammy’s needs, Tammy is a 36 year old woman who can support herself by getting a job. She chose to be a stay at home to look after the kids and now Tammy using it against Melissa. Is that fair? I just read somewhere that Tammy is going to star in a new sitcom, wow, only now is she getting off her lazy ass and working.
    They must have sat down and discussed what they were going to do, and agreed on it. Tammy must have known what kind of routine and schedule that Melissa has after all the years that they were together, so why only now it’s an issue which she can use to making Melissa look like a irresponsible person? I have heard Melissa say in many interviews that her children are important to her, that the kids don’t like to go on tour. Melissa wants joint custody so she loves her children.
    Tammy is really trying her hardest to take revenge of the break up to highest level by trying to destroy Melissa’s career.
    With Julie, Melissa eventually ended the relationship with Julie because Julie told Melissa that she isn’t gay anymore after 13 years of relationship. Read her book!!
    What else can Tammy throw at Melissa to destroy Melissa’s career? The new ex-Melissa fans can help Tammy think of something.

  51. Francesca says:

    If you look back at Tammy’s blog, she has been airing her problems with Melissa for years. Her comments are often negative. The couple has had issues for a long time. At one point (in 2008) Tammy even hinted at being abusive because she was raised in an abusive household. I think Melissa finally got tired of being with someone who was pulling her down, but still loves Tammy enough and cares about the children enough not to want to air Tammy’s problems in the media. Good for you, Melissa, for respecting Tammy’s privacy even when she is not respecting yours!

  52. sas says:

    Touche, Francesca! Total agreement.

  53. smoon says:

    This is the very 1st time I have made any comment on the internet,regarding any “celebrity”. Honestly I am of the opinion that too many celebrities are completely unaware of reality simply because of the way they live, their selfish and outrageous demands and expectations, if the banks crashed they would not survive because they have forgotten how to be regular humans. However, we the public have absolutely no true insight to the personal lives of “stars”. It’s so easy for outsiders to form an opinion based on the garbage media and web sites such as celebitchy feed us, how gullible are we, the public? Do most of you people who write these biased comments realise that none of you have ALL the facts in any of these stories, and how awfully stupid so many of you make yourselves sound. Many of you are unable to make clear & complete sentences, are unable to spell correctly and for some reason think yourselves intelligent enough to make comments about another persons personal lives. None of us know what caused this relationship to fall apart, sometimes one grows and the other does not, maybe they just fell out of love, it happens all the time and it happens to rich famous people as well. As these two were not legally married then it simply is not a marriage, many people live common-law and have children, many men & women are unavailable to their children during their entire childhood and beyond, some parents just give money, some just have love to give. If this woman had a successful career before entering into a relationship with Melissa then why does she have only $4.00 to her name, can she not manage her money? Why should Melissa pay her anything other than child support? I can’t help but wonder about how well some of you handle your personal lives and how you might feel about some of the ignorant comments made by people whom know very little about what is real. Keep Rocking and Rolling Melissa, I love your music and respect your privacy and right to make a decision that is based on what is right for you. P.S. I am Canadian and some of us Canadians do not want to be Americanised and therefore spell as we were taught in our school system, we do not put Z’s where there ought to be S’s. By the way that is “zed” not “zee” as the Americans say.Good luck to all of you, I hope you will never be judged as harshly as you judge others.