Prenuptial Agreement

Although I hesitate to provide Kim Kardashian or her family any more attention than they already receive for their multiple television shows and daily media appearances, the divorce between Kim Kardashian and her husband Kris Humphries is a “real life” example of a recent post on Iowa Family Law Bulletin.  Many couples face the situation Kardashian and Humphries are currently experiencing, when only one person in the relationship wants to divorce.

Divorce v. Annulment

Unfortunately for Ms. Kardashian, Mr. Humphries appears to be stalling their divorce.  The couple was married in August of 2011.  Kardashian filed for divorce very soon after.  Kardashian is apparently hoping for a straightforward divorce, while Humphries is claiming that their wedding (which was televised and received much media scrutiny) was a fraud.  The couple had a prenuptial agreement and have no children together.  Arguably, their divorce litigation should not take this long.

Kardashian and her publicity/legal team claim foot-dragging and stall tactics by Humphries, including a strange choice by Humphries to deliver a deposition request to Kardashian’s current boyfriend, Kanye West, rather than the more accepted practice of delivery to his attorney’s office.  However, Humphries’ legal team argues that Kardashian has not produced certain financial records needed to prepare for depositions.

Iowa Annulment Law

In this particular situation, Humphries is requesting an annulment while Kardashian is requesting a divorce.  In Iowa, causes for an annulment are governed by Iowa Code Section 598.29.  This section states that a marriage may be annulled for the following causes:

  1.  Where the marriage between the parties is prohibited by law.
  2. Where either party was impotent at the time of marriage.
  3. Where either party had a husband or wife living at the time of the marriage, provided they have not, with a knowledge of such fact, lived and cohabited together after the death or marriage dissolution of the former spouse of such party.
  4. Where either party was a ward under a guardianship and was found by the court to lack the capacity to contract a valid marriage.

Fraud as a Cause for Annulment

Unfortunately, there is not much being reported on the specific legal argument Mr. Humphries is relying upon, however, it seems that he believes he was used by Kardashian for television ratings.  Kardashian says that she married Humphries for love, however, got “caught up in the hoopla.”

A trial is not expected in the case until next year, and it does not appear that a settlement is likely at this point.  One thing is certain – when and if there is a trial, there will be no lack of media coverage!

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Actress Katie Holmes filed for divorce from her husband of 5 years, Tom Cruise, last Thursday.   The pair met and married quickly and have been the subject of Hollywood speculation for the duration of their relationship.  Holmes, 33, has one 6 year old daughter, Suri, with Cruise.  Cruise has two adopted children from a previous marriage with actress Nicole Kidman.  It has been reported that Cruise was surprised to learn of Holmes’ filing.  This is the end of Cruise’s 3rd marriage, while Holmes’ first.

Fault vs. No Fault Divorce

Holmes filed for divorce in the state of New York.  There has been much speculation as to her motivation for filing in a “fault” divorce state.  In New York and other states that allow a petitioner to file for divorce on fault-based grounds.  In New York, you may file for a fault-based divorce based on several  grounds:

  • Cruel and Inhuman Treatment
    • Physical, verbal or emotional abuse that endangers your physical or mental well being.
    • The judge will look for occurrences in the last 5 years.
  • Abandonment
    • Your spouse must have abandoned you for a period of one or more years.
    • “Constructive Abandonment” is applicable if your spouse has refused to engage in sexual relations with you for a period of at least one year.
  • Three Consecutive Year Imprisonment
    • The imprisonment must begin after the marriage and last for a period of 3 consecutive years.
  • Adultery
    • Must be able to show that your spouse committed adultery during the marriage, which can prove to be difficult.

In Holmes’ and Cruise’s case, there is, of course, much speculation as to why Holmes would have filed in New York.  Many believe that Cruise’s intense commitment to Scientology may have played a role in their split.  In the petition, Holmes has claimed that the couple is unable to continue the marriage because of irreconcilable differences.  Cruise is expected to file a response in New York requesting the proceedings be moved to California.

Cruise and Holmes have a pre-nuptial agreement, so financial considerations will most likely not be a major issue in their divorce.  Holmes could challenge the agreement, however, the main issue will almost certainly be custody of their daughter.  Holmes has filed for sole custody of Suri along with an “appropriate” child support amount.

Iowa:  a No Fault Divorce State

Iowa is considered a no-fault divorce state.  The Iowa Code addresses dissolution of marriage in Chapter 598.

Officially called “dissolution of marriage” in Iowa, a divorce will be granted when there is evidence of a breakdown of the relationship with no likelihood it can be preserved.  There is no requirement for a spouse to place blame on the other spouse.  After filing for dissolution, a judge may require the couple to participate in conciliation efforts for a period of up to 60 days.  For example, Polk county requires the couple to participate in mediation.  Iowa Code section 598.7 addresses this requirement.  Also, there is a 90 day waiting period in Iowa from the time of filing until a judge can issue a final decree, although this requirement may be waived under certain circumstances.

It remains to be seen just how nasty Tom Cruise and Katie Holme’s divorce will be, however, we can be assured that whatever happens, there will be intense media coverage of every detail!

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