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The Life of Mary Lee Harvey, and How It Was Impacted by Her Divorce with comedian Steve Harvey

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You may’ve heard the name Mary Lee Harvey, as she’s known for many things, but none more than her marriage and messy divorce with her ex-husband and comedian, Steve Harvey. Mary Lee Harvey’s life, although heavily tied to her marriage, unfolds as a story of many highs and lows, public scrutiny, and personal resilience. Beyond the fame and the legal battles that took place due to the divorce, Mary Lee’s journey is marked by a diverse background and a life that took unexpected turns even from an early age.

Early Life

Mary Lee Shackleford, her maiden name before marrying Steve Harvey, was born in Texas on October 20, 1960, into a family of ten children. She had to experience the dynamics of a large household and some of the difficult situations that took place around navigating life in a home with that many people. Her childhood and family dynamic ultimately laid the foundation for the complexities that would unfold as her life continued. From what is known, her early years were a journey of self-discovery, leading her to go through various experiences that shaped her life. At one point, Mary Lee mentioned in a YouTube video that she had a strained relationship with her father. She was quoted in saying, “Coming from my childhood and my father’s house, which was never pleasant for me, I was looking for that relationship that I never had even with my father.” Its clear by the way she talks about it, that her early years were complex and possibly difficult for her.

Mary Lee Harvey’s Professional Career

Mary Lee’s name became widely recognized due to her association with Steve Harvey, but thats not the only thing she’s known for. At one point, she ventured into the realm of the makeup industry, and had a career as a make up artist. She made a living from that and was actually working in a cosmetic store when her and Steve Harvey met. Additionally, Mary Lee tried her hand at writing, and is said to be an author as well, although not much is known about what she’s written or worked on. Regardless of her past career, the dynamics of her marriage to Steve Harvey are what thrust her into the spotlight, making her a subject of public interest, but her life story certainly expands far beyond the intricacies of her marriage. It is unknown what she’s done for work now that the divorce has been finalized, but she did have a life and career of her own prior to getting married. 

Marriage to Steve

The narrative of Mary Lee and Steve Harvey began at a mall in Arlington, Texas, where their paths crossed in 1989. However, the circumstances surrounding when they officially started dating were complicated, as Steve was still married to his first wife at that time. Some even believe he was unfaithful to his first wife due to the timing of things and speculate about when the relationship officially started. Despite this, the connection between Mary Lee and Steve deepened, eventually resulting in their marriage in June 1996. The joyous union brought forth a son, Wynton, in 1997.

Their happiness, however, didn’t last long as the marriage faced challenges in the early 2000s. The couple officially divorced in 2005, and a noteworthy aspect of the settlement was the alimony, as Mary Lee received a substantial $40,000 per month, and three of their houses, per The aftermath of their divorce marked a turning point in their relationship, as it sparked a back and forth legal battle, which ultimately became a public spectacle. 

2011: Steve Harvey Sues Mary Lee Harvey for Contempt of Court and Defamation

Post-divorce, the relationship between Mary Lee and Steve Harvey really started to turn sour. In 2011, Steve began legal proceedings against Mary Lee, alleging contempt of court and defamation. The courtroom drama brought their private matters back into the spot light once again, bringing media interest into the affairs of their tumultuous relationship. Unfortunately, the legal battle doesn’t end there. 

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2013: Mary Lee Harvey Arrested

In 2013, issues between the two continued when Mary Lee found herself facing legal troubles due to Steve’s defamation suit. Her arrest became a distressing chapter in her post-marital life, adding another layer of complexity to the already difficult legal struggle she was going through. The details surrounding her arrest, those of which also pertaining to her charge of being in contempt of court, invited public speculation and intensified media scrutiny, contributing to the ongoing saga of Mary Lee’s life in the public eye.

2018: Mary Lee Harvey Sues Steve Harvey for $60 Million

The drama between Mary Lee and Steve Harvey reached new heights in 2018 when she filed a lawsuit against him. This time, the stakes were higher, with Mary Lee seeking a staggering $60 million in damages. The reasons behind the lawsuit included Mary alleging a campaign of torture, child endangerment, kidnapping, intentional infliction of emotional distress, harassment, and plenty more. She also alleged “Soul murder” which is achieved by a combination of torture, deprivation, and brainwashing,” (via E! News). Mary Lee also shared that since their high-profile divorce, she’d endured significant physical and emotional trauma, leading Mary to attempt to take her own life. 

Beyond her mental health struggle, Mary also accused Steve of intentionally severing her relationship with their son, Wynton Harvey, and causing significant losses in her business ventures. Prior to the lawsuit, she even publicly expressed her wish to see Steve jailed.

Steve Harvey denied these allegations, and the suit was ultimately thrown out.


Mary Lee Harvey’s journey from a woman with a background in the makeup industry and life as a sporadic writer, to a public figure entangled in the complexities of fame and negative press is truly unfortunate. The public nature of her divorce, subsequent legal battles, and personal struggles have eclipsed many of her other accomplishments, and is now something most people know her for. As chapters of her life unfolded, Mary Lee faced challenges that tested her resilience in the public eye.

The inner workings of her relationship with Steve Harvey continue to be a topic of interest, showcasing how complicated things can become when private matters are gotten a hold of by the media, and made public for the world to see. Since their troubles, not much is known about Mary Lee Harvey’s current love life, while Steve Harvey married Marjorie Harvey in  2007 and has been happily married since.

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