Kim Kardashian Finally Divorced – Her Case Presents Several Family Law Issues

Reality star, Kim Kardashian originally filed for a dissolution of her marriage to basketball player Kris Humphries over a year and half ago. Kris responded by requesting an annulment of their marriage, contending that the marriage was voidable, as it was induced by fraud. Kim disagreed and the case drug on and on. In California, a marriage may only be annulled if a marriage is “void” or “voidable.” A marriage is void if one person is already married at the time of a second marriage or in the case of incest. A marriage is voidable if: (1) one party was incapable of consent, (2) the husband or wife of either party was living at the time of the second marriage, but were thought to have been dead or missing for five years, (3) either party was of unsound mind, (4) consent was obtained by fraud, (5) consent was obtained by force, or (6) either party was physically incapable of entering into the marriage state. Kris contended that Kim only married him for her reality show and to gain more fame and money, thus, inducing him to enter into the marriage fraudulently. Despite the fact that the majority of the public likely agree with him, given that the parties have now settled, it is unclear whether Kris could have proven that claim.

Regarding Kim and Kris’ dissolution, TMZ.com stated that the judge sent two different messages: that Kris and Kim were officially divorced, but that it would be “over” once the official paperwork was signed. This is likely because the judge terminated their marital status on the date of the hearing. In California, a marriage can be dissolved and the parties divorced, without all of the property, support and other issues having been resolved. In this case, it appears that Kim and Kris reached a written agreement, which had not yet been signed. Nonetheless, the judge had the power to declare them officially “divorced” while they were in court.

TMZ.com is reporting that Kris “walked away with nothing.” This isn’t surprising given their marriage lasted only 72 days and given they reportedly had a prenuptial agreement. In California, assets and debts are considered community property, only to the extent they were acquired and/or incurred during marriage. 72 days is not much time to acquire property and debt. Further, in a short term marriage, which their’s no doubt was, spousal support is normally only payable for one half the length of the marriage. Kris would have been hard pressed to argue for spousal support given the facts in this case.

Just prior to announcing that Kim and Kris had settled, TMZ.com splashed headlines announcing that Kris had missed a Mandatory Settlement Conference. They went on to state that the Judge was SURE to slap Kris with penalties, fines, etc. n Santa Clara County, a Mandatory Settlement Conference is held prior to all trials. The Mandatory Settlement Conference is an opportunity for both parties and their attorneys to meet and discuss settling the issues set for trial. Many, many dissolution cases settle at that point, without ever proceeding to trial. TMZ.com’s provocative headlines regarding Kris’s missed court appearance may have been exaggerated given that the attorneys do most of the discussing at the Mandatory Settlement Conferences. In this case, it appears that the parties did in fact reach a settlement. It is reasonable to assume then, that the attorneys did in fact discuss settlement that day, and/or in the following days, regardless of Kris’ physical absence. Regarding sanctions for Kris’ no show, pursuant to the California Family Code, the judge could have ordered him to pay Kim’s attorney fees for forcing her to incur unnecessary fees by appearing at the Mandatory Settlement Conference for which he did not attend.

The Kardashian / Humphries case illustrates how many issues can arise, even in a dissolution of an extremely brief marriage. At Mello & Pickering, LLP, we can help you spot issues that may arise in your case and address each issue appropriately. Give our office a call for a free 20 minute phone consultation at (408) 288-7800.