Kanye West and Kim Kardashian are getting a divorce after almost seven years of marriage.
The reality TV superstar, 40, filed for divorce from the rapper, 43, on Friday in Los Angeles, court sources confirmed to the AP, and is seeking joint legal and physical custody of their four children, daughters North, seven years old, and Chicago, two, and sons Saint, five, and Psalm, 19 months.
TMZ was the first to break the news of the split, which had been the subject of rumors for weeks, after sources close to the couple told Page Six in January that a split was “imminent” and that Kardashian had retained the well-known Hollywood divorce lawyer Laura Wasser.
The high-profile couple, often known by the portmanteau “Kimye”, began dating in 2012, had their first child in 2013, and married in May 2014 in a lavish ceremony at a 16th-century fortress in Florence.
But they had reportedly been living separate lives for months, as West struggled publicly with his mental health. In July, after West posted a series of rambling, erratic tweets and launched an outlandish presidential campaign, Kardashian pleaded for compassion toward West’s bipolar disorder.
“Those who are close with Kanye know his heart and understand his words sometimes do not align with his intentions,” she wrote on Instagram. Kardashian called her husband 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”, Donda West, who died suddenly at 58 from surgical complications in 2007, “has to deal with the pressure and isolation that is heightened by his bipolar disorder”. Kardashian said she had broken her silence over his condition to address the “stigma and misconceptions” surrounding mental health.
West had previously discussed his bipolar diagnosis publicly and within his music, as his public persona grew increasingly erratic and controversial. He had been hospitalized for exhaustion and sleep deprivation multiple times, including a psychiatric hold in late 2016. In 2018, he likened bipolar disorder to having a “sprained brain” in an interview with David Letterman. He courted intense backlash in 2018 for publicly supporting Donald Trump and saying 400 years of slavery in America “sounds like a choice”. His artwork for his album ye, released the same year, featured an image of a mountain range with the words “I hate being Bi-Polar it’s awesome” written across it.
As West grew into an increasingly polarizing public figure, Kardashian embarked on a career in criminal justice advocacy. As captured in the Oxygen documentary The Justice Project, Kardashian campaigned for Alice Marie Johnson, a 63-year-old woman serving a life sentence for a non-violent drug offense until she was granted clemency by Trump in 2018 following a White House meeting with Kardashian. The beauty mogul announced in 2019 that she was studying law through an apprenticeship and intended to take the California bar exam in 2022.
Controversy over West’s penchant for posting barrages of explosive, confusing tweets, and how the media should cover his mental health, reignited in summer 2020. In July, West tweeted, “I been trying to get divorced since Kim met with Meek at the Warldolf [sic] for ‘prison reform’,” referring to a criminal justice summit Kardashian attended with the rapper Meek Mill in November 2018. West later deleted and apologized for the tweet.
West was barely present at Kardashian’s much-maligned – and memed – 40th birthday party in October, for which she flew friends and family to a private island in Tahiti so “we could pretend things were normal just for a brief moment in time”, she wrote in a heavily derided Twitter post. West reportedly popped in to give his wife a birthday message delivered by a hologram of her late father, Robert Kardashian, a lawyer and personal friend of OJ Simpson’s who served on the football star’s defense team.
This will be Kardashian’s third divorce, following splits from the basketball player Kris Humphries in 2010 after only 72 days of marriage, and from the music producer Damon Thomas in 2003. It is the first for West. The uber-wealthy couple are reported to have a prenuptial agreement, though their finances have increased dramatically since their 2014 wedding. According to an April Forbes story, West is now worth $1.3bn thanks to his fashion and music success. Kardashian has seen her fortune balloon from $40m in 2014 to $780m in October 2020 thanks to her makeup and shapewear lines.
The marriage’s demise arrives just months after the September announcement that Keeping Up With the Kardashians, the family reality show that rocketed Kardashian into a household name and on which West frequently appeared, would be ending in 2021 after 14 seasons. The Kardashian family – mom Kris and sisters Kourtney, Khloé, model Kendall and makeup entrepreneur Kylie – signed a lucrative deal with Disney for new content, which will debut on Hulu in late 2021.