Lisa Zeiderman on the Legal, Financial, & Custody Implications Kanye West’s Behaviour Could Have on His Divorce Action with Kim Kardashian – An interview with Ilyssa Panitz

Attorney Lisa Zeiderman says, Kanye West (Ye) may have a challenging time retaining an attorney to represent him because he has already gone through six lawyers in less than two-years for his divorce action with reality star Kim Kardashian.

As a reporter who spent two-decades covering Hollywood Celebrities, from my experience the stars have always been held to a higher standard especially when they are trying to lead a normal/quiet life, such as going to the grocery store, pumping gas, grabbing dinner, or dropping off the dry cleaning simply because they are well established household names. If fans aren’t busy trying to take their picture and post it on social media with a comment underneath, they will inquire and seek details about what the stars were like. Were they nice, rude, did they leave you a generous tip? Unfortunately, being a recognizable face comes with a price, especially if you are going through a divorce. Take for example Kim Kardashian and Kanye West (Ye.) Since Ms. Kardashian filed for a divorce back in February 2021, Mr. West has reportedly gone to many extremes to make the situation more difficult for Ms. Kardashian. For instance. Mr. West took to his social media handles to attack Ms. Kardashian, her family and former boyfriend Pete Davidson whom the reality star was dating for nine-months. As if those widely read confrontations weren’t embarrassing enough, Mr. West recently went one step further to promote his antisemitic propaganda on social media, where the rapper has more than 18-million followers on Instagram and 31-million followers on Twitter. Those actions resulted in Mr. West’s 6th attorney letting him go and companies such as GAP, Foot Locker, Balenciaga, Adidas, and West’s talent agency reportedly dropping him as a partner and client. Forbes then affirmed Mr. West (Ye) has been dropped from their billionaire status list. What does all this mean especially since the divorce between Kim & Kanye has not been finalized? We asked one of New York’s top litigators, to help us understand the many different directions this case is taking and what may lie ahead for both sides. Lisa Zeiderman is the Managing Partner at the New York based law firm Miller Zeiderman, with locations in Westchester County and New York City. Lisa has represented clients in contentious and high-profile divorce actions. In addition to her legal skills Lisa is also a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst, Certified Financial Litigator and is the Vice President and Chair of the Development Committee for Savvy Ladies, a 501 © (3) whose mission is to bring financial literacy to women across New York and nationally. Even though Lisa does not represent either Kim Kardashian or Kanye West (Ye) she has a wealth of experience is handling cases that involve complex custody situations, high net-worth individuals and divorce actions that go to trial.

Ilyssa Panitz: Lawyers always tell their clients to stay “stellar” during a divorce. Why are a parent’s actions and behavior under a microscope during a divorce action?

Lisa Zeiderman: I don’t necessarily agree that a parent’s actions and behavior are under a microscope, but I do believe that it feels that way too many parents. The fact is that parents are asking a judge who doesn’t really know them or their children to make decisions regarding the custody of their children. The primary focus of that inquiry is which parent is in the better position to make decisions in the best interest of the children. That raises questions about a parent’s judgment, ability to control impulses, which parent can foster a relationship with the other parent and which parent can put the interests of the children before their own interests. Yes, all of this is happening while a court action is going on so naturally one will feel they are under a microscope as parents are operating under the watchful eye of the court. Let’s also remember that during a custody case, a parent puts their physical and psychological state before the court so if they are “acting out” or acting impulsively or showing a general lack of judgment, then the court has to ask why.

Ilyssa Panitz: Kanye West (Ye) has been lashing out at his ex-wife Kim Kardashian, her former boyfriend Pete Davidson and the Jewish community on social media. In addition to those actions, Mr. West was also recently escorted out of the Skechers Offices after showing up
unannounced. From a legal perspective, can this public display of bad behavior have an impact on custody & visitation of his four small children?

Lisa Zeiderman: Of course, it can as the court has to take into consideration how that public display impacts the children’s relationships at school, with friends, with providers. Such a public display may indicate that a parent is not able to place the child’s interests and relationships with others before their own or to comprehend the affects. It also may show a lack of judgment and impulse control and that would be concerning. It also may indicate an inability to teach the children about respect for others and a lack of understanding as to what acceptable or unacceptable behavior is.

Ilyssa Panitz: Based on Mr. West’s reported outbursts and disturbing posts, are these grounds for the Kim (should she choose) to ask for supervised visits during West’s allocated time with the kids?

Lisa Zeiderman: If it can be shown that a lack of impulse control and acceptable behavior exists and that it may result in harm for the children, physically or emotionally, then yes it may be grounds for supervised access.

Ilyssa Panitz: In New York where you practice, when do the courts grant “supervised visits” and what does one side need to present to the Judge for a favorable ruling?

Lisa Zeiderman: When the court believes the child is in a situation whereby it is potentially dangerous either physically or emotionally for a child to be with the parent alone and that it is “NOT” in the child’s interest to be alone with the child, the court may direct supervised access.

Ilyssa Panitz: In New York, where you practice, how do supervised visits work?

Lisa Zeiderman: Supervised visits may be in person, occurring at a parent’s home if appropriate, in a public space such as a park or in the supervisor’s office setting at specified times and places. The supervisor accompanies the child and parent, oversees the interaction, has the ability to intervene when there is inappropriate behavior or discussion and can even stop a visit. The supervisor may issue a report to the court regarding their observations during the visit.

Ilyssa Panitz: You also have a background as a Guardian Ad Litem. In your professional opinion, and from what you read and observed from this case, do these four children need one in a situation like this?

Lisa Zeiderman: I am actually an attorney for children. The difference between the two is a Guardian Ad Litem ensures the child’s best interests are represented during a divorce/custody action while an Attorney for the Children represents the child’s wishes and will advocate on their behalf. Since I have never met Kim, Kanye, or their children, I really don’t have sufficient information to provide a meaningful view.

Ilyssa Panitz: Recently, Kanye West has been dropped from GAP, Foot Locker, Balenciaga, his agent CAA, Vogue and Adidas. How & why will this impact his earning potential?

Lisa Zeiderman: Plainly this has impacted Kanye’s earning potential in a huge way. Companies from which his income is derived are dropping him due to his hate speech. An individual’s wealth is measured by assets which include cash, investments, real estate, and business value which to some degree is measured by a multiple of future earnings. In Kanye’s case, future earning potential has certainly been impacted since Kanye has been dropped by most of his significant projects and so his earning potential has diminished.

Ilyssa Panitz: If a Spouse-A has sabotaged their career due to their anger, bitterness, and other possible mental/emotional issues they may be experiencing because of a divorce, how in New York do legal professionals handle this assuming Spouse-A has children they are responsible for?

Lisa Zeiderman: So, the question is how has mental illness if at all impacted Kanye’s income? Are his actions due to bitterness or are they a result of mental illness that he could not control at the time? Can he repair his relationships? Is he complying with his mental health professionals? There are so many unknowns. The question becomes if his income decreases as a result of his actions, could the court impute part or all of that income for purposes of child support even if he no longer has the resources to earn that income due to his actions.

Ilyssa Panitz: If not being able to make money was self-inflicted, can Spouse-A wiggle out of paying maintenance (alimony) and child support?

Lisa Zeiderman: The court certainly has the authority to impute income based upon a party’s ability to earn. If someone has essentially dissipated their career by self-inflicting harm on that career, then the court could determine support based upon that prior earning potential. But again, if someone is mentally ill and unable to control that conduct, what will the court then do? And of course, the court again needs to consider the best interest of the children.

Ilyssa Panitz: Kanye West (Ye) has reportedly gone through “six” attorneys. In your professional opinion, what obstacles is he up against for finding a 7th lawyer to represent him?

Lisa Zeiderman: There will be obstacles as many attorneys will be reluctant to take on a case where there has been a revolving door of attorneys. At some point, you ask yourself as an attorney what would I be getting into? Is it that he can’t take advice? You want to make a positive difference in your client’s case and be able to help your client and if the client won’t take advice, then what is the point?

Ilyssa Panitz: Based on this revolving door of legal counsel, as you just put it, how much can it set this divorce action back from being finalized?

Lisa Zeiderman: That depends on where the case is procedurally and whether it is complex or not. Sometimes a fresh face makes the difference but most of the time, the changing of attorneys prolongs the case and makes it more expensive as attorneys need to learn the case.

Ilyssa Panitz: For the next attorney that takes Mr. West’s case, what challenges do they face coming in at this stage of the divorce “and” how costly will it be for them to catch up?

Lisa Zeiderman: The cost depends on the complexity and how long it takes to review and learn the complexities of the case. Of course, you are now picking up where another attorney left off and you are essentially unable to craft the case as you might have from the beginning. That is a challenge as perhaps you saw the case differently or may have had a different strategy. You now are essentially locked into a degree to the prior attorney’s strategy depending on where the case is procedurally.

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