Mel B has wiped out her multi-million pound Spice Girls fortune after leading an “extravagant” lifestyle, a court was told as the star appeared at her bitter divorce battle for the first time.
The Leeds-born singer, 42, attended court in Los Angeles on Friday to face Stephen Belafonte, who she says tormented her with years of physical and mental abuse.
Los Angeles Superior Court was told that the pair both had outstanding tax debts after making “improvident” lifestyle choices.
Grace Jamra, representing Belafonte, said: “Their lifestyle was extravagant and affluent.
“She wiped out all her Spice Girls money, approximately 50 million if not more.”
Mel B, real name Melanie Brown, appeared in court in high-waisted black trousers and a white shirt with a black neck tie.
She sat clutching a tissue at the far side of the court to 42-year-old Belafonte, who was bald, bearded and suited.
Jacalyn Davis, representing Brown, spoke of their tax problems, saying they were “sustained through improvident lifestyle choices”.
“They never had money at the end of the year to pay their taxes,” she said.
“All their community income was being spent and then some. In this marriage that would be Miss Brown’s income from the Spice Girls.”
The court heard arguments over whether Brown should temporarily pay spousal support and 200,000 dollars (£154,000) in legal fees to Belafonte, who claims to have no income.
Larry Bakman, also representing Brown, said it would be “offensive” for her to pay for her alleged abuser to fight the case.
Brown previously won a temporary restraining order after claiming her husband was abusive and had links to the porn industry.
Her lawyers claimed he was a danger to their child as a “convicted domestic violence offender” with an “extensive criminal history”.
Ms Jamra said the claims were part of “an ongoing smear campaign”.
Brown, now a judge on America’s Got Talent, married the film producer in Las Vegas in June 2007, but filed for divorce on March 20, citing “irreconcilable differences”.
Judge Lawrence Riff adjourned the case to produce a written ruling on Wednesday, while the full divorce hearing will begin on September 25.