The Scandalous Ending To Sara Evans' First Marriage

This article includes mentions of domestic abuse.

Sara Evans' divorce from her first husband, Craig Schelske, was the worst possible. That's a strong statement to make considering the ending of the country singer's marriage to Jay Barker was far from amicable. In January 2022, the former college football player was arrested in Nashville for allegedly attempting to hit the car Evans was traveling in, CBS42 reported. Evans had been leaving a party with a friend when she said she saw Barker "backing up his vehicle at a high rate of speed attempting to hit them but missed," according to the affidavit.

Barker was accused of felony aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. In June 2022, Barker entered a plea deal of reckless endangerment, a misdemeanor, Billboard reported. While Evans hadn't made it public, the affidavit listed the couple as separated. Shortly after the incident, it came to light that Evans had filed for divorce the previous August, Scoop Nashville reported. Making things even uglier, Evans cited "irreconcilable differences and inappropriate marital conduct." 

It sounds like a divorce can't possibly get worse than that mess. But, during her first divorce, Evans actually spent considerably more time in court and had to withdraw from "Dancing with the Stars." If "inappropriate marital conduct" piqued your interest, you should buckle up for the myriad reasons she gave in her divorce filing from Schelske, filed in October 2006: infidelity, inappropriate porn usage, and substance misuse all made the list, ABC News reported. Unfortunately, that was just the beginning of the debacle.

Evans and Schelske accused each other of troubling behavior

Perhaps Sara Evans' most disturbing accusation against Craig Schelske was that he often watched porn with their kids, Avery, Olivia, and Audrey, in the house, Today reported. His habit reached a boiling point when their then 7-year-old son "confronted [Schelske] ... when he was watching pornographic material on the television," the documents claimed. In his response, Schelske said he and Evans were watching porn together when Avery went to their bedroom, CMT reported.

Evans also accused Schelske of keeping over 100 pictures of himself aroused and several others of himself having sex with other women. Schelske, however, contended Evans was the one who took his nudes and denied the sex photos. Accusations of affairs flew on both sides. Evans saying Schelske was involved with their nanny (who sued Evans over the allegations), while he accused her of having affairs with her "Dancing With the Stars" partner Tony Dovolani, Kenny Chesney (who called it "completely untrue"), and others, TMZ reported. 

Beyond sexual transgressions, Evans also accused Schelske of harassment and mental and verbal abuse, including threatening to kidnap their kids, calling her "crazy," and controlling her possessions and time with the kids. She also claimed he consumed alcohol excessively in front of them, while he contended she was the one partying all night and neglecting the kids the following day. Evans and Schelske finalized their divorce in September 2007, agreeing to a custody plan, the Associated Press reported. Their issues, however, didn't end there.

If you or someone you know is dealing with domestic abuse, you can call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1−800−799−7233. You can also find more information, resources, and support at their website.

Evans and Schelske faced off in court several more times

Years after Sara Evans and Craig Schelske went their separate ways, they continued to take each other to court over their issues. In February 2010, Evans was granted a temporary restraining order against Schelske that prevented him from publicly discussing their marriage, CMT reported. But Evans had to return to the courts a year later to refile her petition, a move that came after Schelske appeared on "Anderson" in September 2011, Fox News reported.

In his interview with Anderson Cooper, Schelske revealed he had lost custody of their children over what he said were false claims made by Evans, according to TMZ. In her petition, Evans argued Schelske violated the terms of the previous court order and negatively impacted their kids. "[It] caused and will continue to cause irreparable harm to the children," the document contended. A few months before the sit-down, Schelske fought to regain custody by accusing her of being an unfit parent while on tour, TMZ reported in April 2011.

"[Schelske] has first-hand knowledge that the children are exposed to inappropriate conduct, spend little time with [Sara], and are placed in a party atmosphere with excessive drinking and drug use," his petition claimed. The custody battle dragged on for years, resulting in an arrest warrant for Schelske over unpaid child support, TMZ reported in June 2014. Schelske filed for bankruptcy, arguing he had nothing but chickens, DVDs and books to his name. Talk about an ugly divorce.