The Ex-Files: How the Kim Kardashian, Kanye West split might play out
Kim Kardashian-West and Kanye West are reportedly getting divorced.
The famous pair are both billionaires in their own right, which means dividing their many assets could get complicated.
Although their potential divorce would take place in the USA and therefore, according to American laws, there are three features of New Zealand divorce law that may apply to their divorce.
SIMILARITIES WITH DIVORCE IN NZ
1. No fault divorce system
New Zealand operates a “no fault” divorce system. If one party wants to separate, that is enough for a separation to be effective. They do not require the consent of the other party.
People may feel that they should receive a larger share of relationship property if the marriage ended because of infidelity. However, our “no fault” system means that the reason the marriage ended is irrelevant to the division of assets.
2. Prenuptial agreement
Many couples have a prenuptial or contracting out agreement which regulates the division of their property. It is not known at this stage whether Kim and Kanye have such an agreement. However, it is very common for parties who have significant wealth to have one. As Kim has been married twice before she is likely to be familiar with the importance of a prenuptial agreement.
Both Kim and Kanye’s wealth has grown significantly since their marriage in 2014. The couple also now have four children together. Any prenuptial agreement would have needed updating over time. In New Zealand, such an agreement can be challenged if there has been a significant change in circumstance that makes the original agreement unfair.
3. Minimum separation period
In New Zealand, the minimum period from separation to the dissolution of the marriage (also known as divorce) is a period of two years. The required period of time in the United States varies from state to state, but it is normally shorter.
MECHANICS OF THEIR DIVORCE
If there is no prenuptial agreement, in New Zealand (and in some states in the USA), their relationship property would be divided 50/50. Kim and Kanye will have to negotiate how to divide assets such as their family home in Calabasas, their two ranches in Wyoming, their many cars and other chattels.
Since Kim’s infamous Paris robbery in 2016, where US$10 million worth of jewellery was stolen, she has been careful not to flaunt her jewellery publicly. However, it is likely that her collection is still valuable.
Where jewellery has been given as a gift, such as an engagement ring, it remains the separate property of the person who received that gift. Any jewellery gifted to Kim by Kanye will remain hers after their divorce.
Kim and Kanye have grown their millions through various business interests. It appears the couple have kept these interests relatively separate. However, if they have shares in each other’s companies, their separation can be further complicated.
Kim and Kanye have four young children. If separating, they will need to come to a custody arrangement. In New Zealand, if parents cannot reach an agreement themselves, they must attempt Family Dispute Resolution mediation before going to court.
A post shared by Kim Kardashian West (@kimkardashian)
It is likely that Kim and Kanye would try to resolve their divorce proceedings using alternative dispute resolution methods. These methods may include negotiating through lawyers or attending a mediation. They will probably need to involve multiple professionals to determine valuations of their assets and each party’s entitlement to those assets.
KEEPING IT QUIET
Wealthy couples in New Zealand usually have confidentiality clauses in both their prenuptial agreement and their post-separation agreement. Such clauses stop the details of the agreement being disclosed to anyone except the parties and their advisors. Kim and Kanye will probably try to settle all property and custody agreements privately to ensure confidentiality.
Celebrity divorces are often complicated and get a lot of public attention. If Kim and Kanye are getting a divorce, this will be especially true. The couple are reportedly worth more than $2 billion. They have a wide range of assets that include significant real estate and multiple businesses. They will also have to determine a custody arrangement for their four young children. Many of these complications may be eased if the couple has a prenuptial agreement in place. Despite any attempts to keep the separation private, they are likely to draw significant attention and scrutiny from the public.
• Jeremy Sutton is a senior family lawyer, specialising in divorce cases where there are significant assets, including family trusts and complex business structures.
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