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When Reba McEntire filed for divorce from her first husband, she said he found out about it before the papers were ever served. And he responded with financial retaliation that included keeping things that “meant nothing to anyone” but her. Read on to find out more about the split and how she said he responded.

Reba McEntire's first divorce came early in her career
Reba McEntire | Terry Wyatt/Getty Images

Reba McEntire asked her first husband to leave her career alone before their divorce

In Reba: My Story, McEntire wrote about the “unhappy unraveling” of her first marriage to Charlie Battles. They wed when she was 21 and still afraid of the dark. And she said he grew resentful of her ambition and success as she became more focused on a career in country music.

Eventually, the up-and-coming star knew she needed to untangle herself. And the first tie to cut was between Battles and her music. She said, “I pretty much wanted him out of my career,” and she told him as much. After she had that conversation with him, he said he thought she was just “going through a little thing” and they’d work it out.

“Charlie was just not getting it,” she concluded.

Reba McEntire’s first husband wanted more than money from their divorce

After a display of “unforgivable” behavior and a conversation with her parents, McEntire decided to leave Battles in 1987. But he found out that she filed for divorce before he was ever served with the papers. And he withdrew all the money from their account, which he later put back for division of assets.

When McEntire went to the home she shared with Battles to pack up her belongings, he seemingly wanted to punish her. For instance, she had copies of her very first album still in cellophane which she held onto for the sentimental value. He insisted on keeping half of those for their collector’s worth, and he only took the ones that hadn’t been opened.

There was also a bed that had been gifted to McEntire by her mother, something she’d received as a teenager. She said Battles was intent on keeping it, despite the brand new bed they’d purchased for their bedroom. “I want all the bedrooms to have beds in it,” she recalled him saying, and she didn’t fight with him.

According to McEntire, she thought her sister, Alice, would “try to whip him” over his behavior. But she really wanted the end of her marriage to be “friendly and fair.”

Reba McEntire said the greedy spirit never left her first husband, even after their divorce


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McEntire said the “hairsplitting” continued with Battles keeping things that “meant nothing to anyone” but her. She collected toiletries from hotels and donated them to rescue missions, and he even wanted to come some of those.

According to McEntire, that “spirit” never left Battles. She said he even asked for money years after their divorce when she asked if he would like to speak with her book collaborator to give his insight on their marriage for her autobiography.