- In February 2021, Kim Kardashian filed for divorce from Kanye West (legally known as Ye).
- In November 2021, Kim began dating Pete Davidson.
- Ye then began 'pursuits to win Kim back'.
- Kim, in December 2021, filed to be legally single and stated that no counselling or reconciliation effort would fix their marriage.
Despite the clear efforts made by Kim Kardashian to be separated from her husband, he has not relented in what he thinks are efforts to win her back. Although Ye began a relationship with Julia Fox in 2022, he has been publicly declaring that God will bring him and Kim back together. He has bought the house across the road from where Kim resides and disregarded the divorce, publicly stating that he has not seen the papers. On Valentine's Day 2022, Ye sent Kim a truck full of roses to her house, he has been encouraging fans to scream at Pete, her partner, if they see him in public and he consistently posts screenshots of their private conversations to his social media showing messages where Kim has asked him not to do so.
His social media posts indicate some sort of spiral which in this case has begun to amount to harassment.
Fans of the high-profile couple and social media users are making memes and content out of this 'juicy' story but the hard reality is that his behaviour is becoming increasingly dangerous. It is indicative of abuse and although they are a high-profile family, some of his behaviours will ring true to victims of domestic abuse worldwide.
We explore how remedies in Criminal and Family law would apply in England to a situation like this.
Ye's constant social media posts would fall within the definition of harassment in English law.
The term harassment is used to cover the 'causing alarm or distress' offence under section 2 of the Protection from Harassment Act 1997, as amended (PHA). Although harassment is not specifically defined in the PHA, it can include repeated attempts to impose unwanted communications and contact upon a victim in a manner that could be expected to cause distress or fear in any reasonable person.
A prosecution under section 2 of the PHA requires proof of harassment. In addition, there must be evidence to prove the conduct was targeted at an individual, was calculated to alarm or cause him/her distress and was oppressive and unreasonable.
This offence carries a maximum of 6 months' imprisonment and/or a level 5 fine (maximum of £5,000)
Ye has been turning up, unexpectedly, to where Kim is, and this would amount to stalking. The PHA provides a non-exhaustive list of acts/omissions which are associated with stalking. This includes following a person, watching or spying on them, forcing contact with them (through any means including social media).
This offence carries a maximum of 6 months' imprisonment and/or a level 5 fine. If the offence involves serious alarm, distress or fear of violence there could be a prison sentence of up to 10 years and/or a fine on indictment.
Family Law Act 1996
At the heart of it, Ye's behaviour is emotional and psychological abuse. His continual use of grand gestures, such as the truck full of roses, constitute emotional manipulation. Behaviours that amount to harassment and stalking when carried out by a close relative are domestic abuse. Domestic abuse can be physical, sexual, violent and threatening behaviour, controlling and coercive behaviour, and economic, psychological and emotional abuse.
There are 2 key protections under English law for victims of domestic abuse.
This is typically used to prohibit a partner/ex-partner from using/threatening physical violence, intimidating, harassing, pestering or communicating with the victim or encouraging anyone else to do so, such as Ye encouraging his fans. It covers these behaviours towards the victim as well as any children. In order to obtain the order, the respondent must have been someone the victim is or was having a relationship with, is or was living with, a family member or a person who has parental responsibility for the victim's child/grandchild.
The applicant must provide evidence of the molestation and show the court the need for protection. The court will determine whether the order should last for a specified amount of time, until a further order or be in place indefinitely. Typically, they last between three months to a year.
A power of arrest is usually added to the order which means police have power to arrest if the order is breached.
This will regulate who can live in the family home and restrict the offender from entering a certain area. As the court is removing an individual from their home, the threshold for proving this is higher than for a non-molestation order.
The court needs to be satisfied that the victim will suffer significant harm if the order is not made. When making this decision, the court considers the balance of harm. They will make an order if the victim and/or any child is likely to suffer significant harm attributed to the offender's conduct. That harm must exceed the harm that would be caused if the order was not made.
An emergency occupation order can be made in 24 hours if required. If the order is made without the respondent present, then a judge will typically automatically order a return date for emergency cases on a without notice basis in order for the offender to defend their position.
Breaching an occupation order can carry a fine. If the court has attached a power of arrest the offender will be arrested and may be subject to a prison sentence. In the unlikely event that the court has not attached a power of arrest and the offender is in breach, the victim can apply to the court for a warrant of arrest.
If the victim's relationship with the respondent is so far removed that they do not qualify for the above remedies there is an option to apply for a restraining order.
These are used to manage risks and prevent further harassment to a victim. They are drafted in order to meet the victim's specific risks.
Examples of clauses that can be included are:
- To not directly or indirectly contact, harass, alarm or distress the victim;
- To not communicate with the victim by any method;
- To not post any material relating to the victim on any social media platforms;
- To not retain private and confidential as well as personal facts relating to the victim;
- To not change their name without notifying the police/court;
- The offender can be excluded from being within specified parameters.
The order will specify a time period that it will be in effect and they can still be sought despite the respondent receiving a custodial penalty.
Breach of a restraining order can carry a maximum of 10 years imprisonment and/or a fine on indictment.
This area of law can be difficult to comprehend in times of crisis so it is imperative that you take legal advice at the earliest opportunity. If this is happening to you or to someone you know do not hesitate to call the police if you are worried about your own or someone else's safety.