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Anita Baker Avoids Jail in Divorce Valuation Dispute over Royalties

By Tanya Roth, Esq. on March 02, 2010 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Singer Anita Baker was very lucky on Friday, as she avoided what could have been a jail sentence for contempt of court. 

In laymen's terms: Baker could have gone to jail for failing to follow a judges' orders.

Anita Baker's divorce battle with her ex-husband, Walter Bridgforth, began in 2008. As part of the bitter legal battle, the parties were to determine how, exactly, to split the royalties earned by Baker on songs written by her, during their marriage, and thus marital property divided in the couple's divorce documents. 

Baker and Bridgforth had been married for 20 years, during which time Baker had written several albums, including "Giving You the Best I Got" in 1988 and "Rhythm of Love" in 1994.  

The court appointed entertainment industry expert, Howard Hertz, to look into the music contracts that Baker had, in order to determine their worth for the divorce valuation. Hertz is famous for representing several high-profile music clients, including Eminem. Baker was ordered to complete certain documents, which essentially were letters to the music companies, authorizing Hertz to look into the contracts. 

But Baker failed to assist in the divorce valuation. 

As a result, the threat of jail time loomed over her head as the court weighed in on whether the singer was in contempt of the court. Baker objected to signing the letters, claiming that they were asking for types of royalties that were different from the terms agreed to in Anita Baker's divorce documents.

Luckily for Baker, the judge declined to find her in contempt and instead, allowed her to change the language in the documents she was to send the music companies.

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