Kanye West & Kim Kardashian Tweet About Divorce
Are Kanye West & Kim Kardashian really getting a divorce? No one really knows what this celebrity couple intends, apparently including themselves. But this week’s Twitter action cannot be described as a positive one in Kim Kardashian’s marriage to rap star and would-be presidential candidate Kanye West.
News reports surfaced this week that Kanye West tweeted, then deleted, his apparent intention to divorce Kim Kardashian: “I been trying to get divorced since Kim met with Meek at the Warldolf for prison reform.” West’s tweet was accompanied by accusations that Kardashian was trying to have him committed, and he compared himself to Nelson Mandela.
West’s turn to Twitter follows a “campaign speech” (hard to take that phrase seriously with Kanye West) in South Carolina which included a line that most marriage counselors would probably recommend against: “Even if my wife wants to divorce me after this speech…”
It would be refreshing to say that Kim Kardashian was the responsible adult in the room, as she did not air her grievances on Twitter. However, that’s only because she’s on a different social media platform – Kardashian responded with an Instagram message that basically confirms she’s concerned about West’s mental health. She did not deny seeking to have him committed:
He is a brilliant but complicated person who on top of the pressures of being an artist and a black man, who experienced the painful loss of his mother, and has to deal with the pressure and isolation that is heightened by his bi-polar disorder. Those who are close with Kanye know his heart and understand his words some times do not align with his intentions.
While it’s inevitable that celebrity divorces, or even rumors of them, will get headlines, there is still something unseemly about any couple airing their dirty laundry in public. And using not just one, but two different social media platforms (Twitter & Instagram) for their public feuding.
Can I Tweet Spouse Notice of Divorce?
This issue has echoes of one I wrote about last year about Saudi Arabia allowing a divorce by text. However, that situation was worse, as the court’s official notice was sent via SMS, whereas in the Kardashian/West marriage, it’s potentially one spouse notifying the other of divorce by Tweet.
How do I tell my wife about the divorce? What if my husband overreacts? These are common questions, and unfortunately they are not easy ones for a lawyer to answer. We can tell you the “official” way to inform someone of a pending legal matter – service of process – but as we are lawyers, not psychologists, we cannot tell you.
Twitter is never appropriate! But if you ask 10 family law attorneys whether you should let your spouse know of a divorce via Twitter, you would find rare unanimity – that is probably the worst idea imaginable. In other words, don’t copy the tweetstorm example of Kim Kardashian and Kanye West.
Official Notice of a Colorado Divorce
The Colorado Rules of Civil Procedure set forth the notice requirements for any civil proceeding, including a dissolution of marriage. Per Colo. R. Civ. P. 4, a summons and copy of the pleadings must be personally served on the other spouse by an unrelated third party, with exceptions if the spouse signs a waiver of service, an adult member of the household is served instead, or the spouse cannot be found.
But that’s just the “official” notice from a lawyer, once the case has commenced. Most spouses would not want to blindside the other side by serving a petition out of the blue, without at least first letting them know it’s coming. And I’ve had several clients ask me how they should tell their spouse. My response is, sadly, one of those rare situations where I have to give a weasel-like answer of “it depends”.
Phone Call or SMS May Be Appropriate In Rare Cases
There is no one “right” way to tell the other spouse he is about to be served with divorce papers. If you fear a violent or angry reaction, it’s probably best to not do it in person – a telephone call would probably work best, or even a Dear John letter (a text is the modern-day version of that). It’s far from ideal, but safety is more important than worrying about treading on sensitivities.
But make sure you’re actually safe before you do this. Don’t text “I’m divorcing you” if you still need access to the house to retrieve your items, or the kids. Instead, talk to your lawyer about the best way to prepare behind the scenes for a possible divorce first. And even if you go this route, call or text/email in private, not via Twitter, Instagram or Facebook!
8/7/20 UPDATE: Another Hollywood Celebrity Texts Wife About Divorce
Perhaps better than a tweet, but not by much. It has been widely reported today that Hollywood star Justin Hartley texted his wife (and fellow Hollywood star) Chrishell Stause that he had filed for divorce – only 45 minutes before the rest of the world knew.
After first thinking it was a joke, Stause said she was not happy about this notice: “Because of the crazy way in which this went down, people want answers, and I f—king want answers.”
Talk About Service or Waiver – If Possible
On the other hand, if you do not fear an angry reaction, it’s usually going to be best to talk it out in person. Most of the time the fact of a divorce is not a shock, as the spouses have already separated, or if they are still living in the same house, at least talked about divorce. But talking about it in the abstract, and actually being served with papers, are two completely different things.
Often, if the spouses are on cordial terms, it may be possible to cooperate in at least some parts of the divorce process, even if you don’t have an agreement on the settlement. So by talking it out, you may find that your spouse would be willing to sign a waiver of service, to avoid the hassle (and expense, however minimal) of using a process server, or to avoid being served somewhat in public – on his/her porch, or at the office.
And keeping tension to a minimum is far better than ambushing the other spouse with divorce papers. Even though third party process servers are used in most cases, unless there’s a reason not to tell the other in advance (e.g. a concern she may try to dodge service, or leave the state with the children), process servers too may reach out to the person being served to arrange a good time for an amicable service. The goal of service of process, and notifying the other spouse of dissolution, is to comply with the legal requirements, not to use it as a means of harassment.
Prepare for Divorce – What do Do Before Service of Process?
This should really be the subject of a full post on its own, but once you tell the spouse he/she will be served with divorce papers, the “cat is out of the bag”, and you may lose your ability to gather information useful to your case, or to save funds to live off until a temporary orders hearing can be held. Sometimes some preparation work in advance of starting the divorce is advisable. Talk to your lawyer about specifics, but some of the possibilities include:
- Saving copies of family photos/videos – unlike most assets, if they disappear, they are irreplaceable.
- Inventory household goods and personal property. Do a video walkthrough of the house before you move out, showing the type and condition of furniture, electronics, etc. Inventory firearms by make/model/serial number, inventory collectibles (coins, stamps, etc). And take close-up photos of their condition, just in case you later need to prove they were in good condition (though you really don’t want to be arguing about household goods in a divorce.
- Note the condition of the house/apartment. Take photos/videos of the walls/floor/windows, etc. If there are holes punched in them, you’re making a record in case that’s relevant for child custody purposes. If it’s in great condition before you move out, note that, so you have proof that any damage was caused by your spouse after you moved out.
- Copy financial records. While you still have access to them, it’s a good idea to make copies of bank/credit card statements, tax and other financial records. Even though Colorado law requires each spouse to provide comprehensive disclosures to the other during a divorce, at times something may be missing that you know you saw at one stage.
- Before you move out, bring anything you need, or anything irreplaceable. I’ve had cases where a client moved out of the house in August, bringing only his summer clothes, and then come winter time, wanted access to the house to get coats, ski equipment, etc, only to be denied access. And then it would cost as much in legal fees trying to obtain them as the items are worth.
Don’t Tweet Like Kanye West or Kim Kardashian
And unless this is clear from the above advice, do NOT, under any circumstances, emulate Kanye West or Kim Kardashian. Don’t tell the world about a potential divorce by Twitter, Facebook, or other social media. And especially don’t badmouth the other in public – keep your feelings to yourself, or talk to family or friends privately, if you must.
Finally, given that Kim Kardashian and Kanye West are tremendous self-publicists, it’s also entirely possible that this Twitter episode was somewhat designed to manufacture publicity for their “brand”, and they are not seriously contemplating divorce. But even by today’s celebrity standards, taking to social media to break news of a desire to divorce, or questioning your spouse’s mental health, would be a new low.
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