Who Is Hunter Biden's Ex-Wife Kathleen Buhle?

The following article mentions drug addiction.

Hunter Biden, son of President Joe Biden, has had a fraught past that continues to cast a shadow on his father's presidency. As he stands trial on charges of purchasing a firearm while using drugs — a federal crime — the complicated personal life of the president's son is once again in the spotlight, with an array of witnesses set to be called up. One of those potential witnesses could be his ex-wife, Katherine Buhle.

As a profile in The New Yorker recalled, shortly after Hunter graduated from college in 1992, he met Kathleen Buhle while volunteering at a Catholic church in Portland, Oregon. Soon after they started dating, Buhle fell pregnant with their first daughter, Naomi Biden. Buhle and Hunter tied the knot before Naomi was born. Their marriage was beset with difficulties due to Hunter's well-documented issues with substance misuse, and they separated in 2015. Buhle filed for divorce in 2016; the divorce was finalized the following year. Hunter Biden is currently married to Melissa Cohen, who's been his wife since 2019.

While Hunter and his trial are making headlines, curiosity has been heightened about his ex-wife, to whom he was married for more than 20 years. To learn more, read on to discover the answer to the question, who is Hunter Biden's ex-wife Kathleen Buhle?

Kathleen Buhle devoted herself to women's issues after her divorce

Following her divorce from Hunter Biden, Kathleen Buhle found herself feeling adrift. "When my marriage ended, I felt like I'd lost my sense of who I was," Buhle explained in an interview with People, detailing the complicated emotions she was experiencing during that time after years of coping with her husband's substance misuse and infidelity. However, she was also cognizant that she'd endured it all, and had made it through the darkness to the other side. "But what I also realized through those crushing experiences is that I needed to find a way to stand on my own," she added. 

According to her Penguin Random House biography, that desire to make her own mark ultimately led Buhle to focus her energy on issues involving women. Working in Washington, D.C., she served as director of strategic partnerships at the DC Volunteer Lawyers Project, a nonprofit organization that secures lawyers for women who have been the victims of sexual violence. Since 2019, she's been CEO of another nonprofit, The House at 1229, and is also a development chair for the Ellington Fund, devoted to raising money in support of programs and activities run by the Duke Ellington School of the Arts.

She was shocked when her daughter discovered Hunter Biden's affair

During the course of her marriage to Hunter Biden, Kathleen Buhle found herself watching him grapple with addiction, while feeling utterly powerless to do anything to stop it. "For anybody who's lived with an addict or loves an addict they'll understand how difficult it is, how painful it is to watch someone struggle with sobriety and how helpless you feel," she said in an interview with MSNBC.

After the death of her husband's brother, Beau Biden, things took another turn. In 2016, Hunter began an affair with Beau's widow, Hallie Biden. At the time, Hunter and Buhle were separated, but not divorced. In her memoir, "If We Break," Buhle shared that learned of the relationship when her daughter Finnegan Biden asked her to join her at a session with the family's therapist. When Buhle arrived, the therapist broke the news about Hallie and Hunter.

Buhle then learned that Finnegan discovered text messages on her father's phone that laid it all out. Buhle was understandably shattered, but this revelation proved her suspicions about her husband were valid. "I felt a strange sense of vindication. Not only had I not been crazy, but it was so much worse than I could have imagined," she wrote. "I was shocked, but not heartbroken."

Her divorce from Hunter Biden was messy

When Kathleen Buhle made the painful decision to divorce Hunter Biden, after raising three daughters over the course of 23 years of marriage, a broken heart wasn't the only thing she was dealing with. There was also the process of extricating herself from the financial mess her ex-husband had made.

That became clear during their separation, when Buhle's attorney requested a court order in 2017 that would halt Biden from squandering money during a period when Buhle and their daughters struggled financially. "Throughout the parties' separation, Mr. Biden has created financial concerns for the family by spending extravagantly on his own interests (including drugs, alcohol, prostitutes, strip clubs, and gifts for women with whom he has sexual relations) while leaving the family with no funds to pay legitimate bills,” lawyer Rebekah Sullivan wrote, reported the Associated Press

The divorce proceedings grew even more contentious when Biden blew off a court order to pay Buhle more than $250,000 in unpaid alimony, leading her lawyer to ask a judge to place him in contempt. The divorce was eventually settled, with the terms of their agreement kept confidential. As Page Six reported, the judge in the case stated, "there is no reasonable prospect of reconciliation of the parties." This was not surprising, given that Biden had publicly confirmed he was in a relationship with sister-in-law Hallie Biden just a few weeks earlier.

She relied on the support of close friend Michelle Obama

The period after her split from Hunter Biden was a trying one for Katherine Buhle. During that painful ordeal, one of the close friends she was able to lean on was first lady Michelle Obama. The two clicked while Buhle's father-in-law Joe Biden was the vice president to former President Barack Obama. 

By 2019, her wounds from the divorce had started to heal, with a source telling Page Six that Buhle was "doing great." That source also referenced her friendship with Michelle, which had grown even stronger during the divorce ordeal. "One of her closest friends is Michelle Obama. They hang out a lot," the source said, revealing the two regularly got their sweat on together by accompanying each other to SoulCycle classes. Michelle herself confirmed their bond; as she shared with People, Buhle is a member of her tight-knit group of friends which also included Michelle Obama's late mother, Marian Robinson. As Michelle told the outlet, "they help me vent, they help me see myself. They give me laughter and love."

Meanwhile, Buhle's daughters were likewise friendly with the Obamas' daughters, Sasha and Malia; in fact, in 2017 the Daily Mail published photos of Buhle and daughter Maisy Biden skiing in Aspen with the Obama siblings. 

Ex-husband Hunter Biden owes her millions in alimony

While Kathleen Buhle's divorce from Hunter Biden was settled amicably, that didn't necessarily mean that he would abide by the terms of that settlement. According to court documents obtained by Axios, Biden was supposed to pay Buhle $37,000 per month, in addition to half of any income in excess of $875,000 that he brought in. However, those court documents also indicated that Biden had not lived up to his part of the agreement. In 2019 Buhle filed a lawsuit against Biden, but even then, Biden did not pay Buhle accordingly. As the New York Post reported in 2024, by then his debt to Buhle had ballooned to a staggering $2.9 million. 

In the most recent court filing provided to Axios — in April 2023 — Buhle appeared to be making little headway in getting Biden to honor the obligations set forth in their divorce settlement. "Ms. Buhle previously told this court that the expense and emotional toll this has had on her is enormous and appears to be never-ending," attorney Wendy Schwartz wrote. "Those feelings have not changed."

Writing about her experiences in her memoir proved to be 'cathartic'

By 2021, Hunter Biden had become sober, and that year shared his journey from addiction to recovery in his memoir, "Beautiful Things." The following year, his ex-wife, Kathleen Buhle, released her own memoir, "If We Break." As Buhle told People, the process began when she enrolled in a bookstore's creative writing class, and found herself writing about what she'd gone through. As she kept writing, she discovered how healing it was for her to bring up long-buried events and confront hard truths by recalling painful moments from her past. "I found it cathartic," she said.

In an interview with MSNBC, Buhle echoed this sentiment. "I started writing during a difficult time in my life to try to make sense of what was happening," she said.

Writing her memoir allowed Buhle to put that part of her life fully behind her. "I think getting a better understanding of why I did the things I did helped me to get closure," she said. "For so long I kept secrets and didn't want people to know that I was struggling ... the minute I opened up and was honest with others and with myself was when I began to heal."

Kathleen Buhle claimed to be in the dark about her ex-husband's finances

Throughout her marriage to Hunter Biden, Kathleen Buhle left the management of their finances to her husband. In "If We Break," she recalled being entirely dependent upon him whenever she had to do any shopping. "The way that Hunter and I handled money was that whenever I needed any, I called Hunter," she wrote. 

By 2015, she'd grown suspicious of what her husband was up to when he was away from home, and began to track his spending. As she wrote, she was absolutely floored by what she saw. "I found a credit card charge for $10,000 at a hot tub store in Los Angeles. I found hundreds at liquor stores and strip clubs," she wrote, recalling that also discovered payments for lift passes at a Lake Tahoe ski resort. "The whole time, he told me he was healthy and sober — and I was crazy," she noted. 

During an appearance on "Good Morning America," Buhle admitted that particular part of the book was the most difficult to reveal to the world. "It's embarrassing to say that I ceded all financial control to my husband," she said. "I liked the nice things. And I didn't want to think about the cost at which they were coming." 

She hopes her daughters will learn from her own experiences

While coping with the repercussions of Hunter Biden's struggles with substance use, his affairs, and their combative divorce, Kathleen Buhle continued to keep their daughters' well-being in mind. Buhle remains hopeful that Naomi Biden, Finnegan Biden, and Maisy Biden learn from her own experiences.

In an interview with Katie Couric Media, Buhle recalled being almost 50 and feeling that she didn't have the ability to take care of herself. She does not want her daughters to end up in a similar position. "I wish I believed in myself when I was younger, and that's what I want my girls to do," she declared. "I want them to believe in themselves and love themselves. Flaws and all. I want us all to feel that way." Ultimately, she'd come to the epiphany that any person, regardless of age or lot in life, can evolve. "This ability to continue to grow and change throughout life is a real comfort to me," she added, "especially when I look at my daughters."

Kathleen Buhle was rocked by a cancer diagnosis

For Kathleen Buhle, divorcing Hunter Biden was a painful, years-long process that left her deeply wounded, standing in a place of uncertainty. However, the experience also proved to be an example of the old adage that what doesn't kill us makes us stronger. Ultimately, she emerged feeling as if she'd reclaimed her life, re-established her own identity, and was ready to strike out on her own for the first time since her early 20s. "I had started working full time, sold my house and my fancy car, moved into a little row house and bought my little car," she told People. "I was like, 'Look at me, I'm killing it!' And then ... I just got pummeled."

That pummeling came in the form of a startling diagnosis when she was told she had stage 3 colon cancer, right at the point where everything felt like it was finally falling in place. "Talk about changing your perspective," she told MSNBC of how her diagnosis suddenly made all her other problems fade away into the background and seem insignificant. "I mean as quickly as I was diagnosed did I think I can't believe I was upset about my divorce," she recalled.

In 2023, Buhle announced on Instagram that she'd been cancer-free for five years. "Those who are battling cancer, don't stop fighting. You are with it!!" she wrote. 

Kathleen Buhle worked to arrive at a place of forgiveness

After all she's been through, the most difficult obstacle that Kathleen Buhle had to overcome was her own feelings of negativity toward ex-husband Hunter Biden. After being cheated on and betrayed during their marriage, and financially put through the ringer during her divorce, she came to understand that feeling hatred toward her ex was only going to keep her in the darkness she was trying to escape. She needed to let go of her resentment — but also realized that was easier said than done. 

But she did it. "I have forgiven him, yes," she confirmed in an interview with People. "Anger is such a heavy weight to carry and I was in a lot of pain," she added. "There was a lot that happened that was very hard for me. And when I made the decision to divorce, I wanted to let go of all of that."

Yet as difficult as it was for her to forgive her ex-husband, that was nothing compared with what she faced when confronted with the reality that she also needed to forgive herself. "My greatest shame was feeling like my identity was not my own," she explained while discussing her memoir, "If We Break." "It was in writing this book that I realized probably the heaviest weight was that I first had to forgive myself for not believing in myself."

She's celebrating being single in her 50s

Having survived a health crisis and a high-profile divorce, Kathleen Buehle ultimately emerged with a new perspective on life — and a new start as an independent single woman in her 50s. "In the end, divorce allowed me to find my strength," she told People. 

That new attitude also spurred her to legally change her name from Biden, the name she took when she and Hunter Biden married, to her maiden name, Buhle. However, as she wrote in "If We Break," giving up the Biden moniker — a name that had opened some pretty significant doors for her over the years — wasn't something she took lightly. "Changing my name had been as frightening as anything I'd ever done before," she wrote. She shared a similar sentiment in her aforementioned "Good Morning America" interview, noting that the name had become such a big part of who she was.

However, it's been a change that she's come to be completely at peace with. In a December 2022 Instagram post, in which she shared a video in which she was in the midst of bringing home a Christmas tree in her convertible, she expressed her unexpected happiness at being single during the holiday season. Admitting she would have once felt pity for someone in her position, she was now reveling in it. "And now I'm like, 'Oof, look at me, livin' my life,'" she proclaimed. "So, keep the faith, life is good, singlehood is the bomb."

She started a nonprofit focusing on women over 50

While speaking with Katie Couric Media in 2022, Kathleen Buhle shared her vision for creating a community for women like her, where connections can be forged and bonds can be established. "I'm in the process of starting a nonprofit women's club in Washington, D.C., aimed at women north of age 50, and built on the premise that when women come together, the opportunity for growth is expanded," she explained. "I wanted to build a place that allows women to come together, because when I was going through the most difficult time in my life, my community of girlfriends lifted me up and pushed me forward," she added, revealing that she had come to view those female friendships as the most valuable in her life.

That goal resulted in the House at 1229, a D.C.-based nonprofit social club for women. As WHC Insider reported, the House at 1229 was intended as a networking opportunity for women from all different backgrounds, but who share core values.

"We created The House at 1229 with the belief that when women come together, the opportunity for growth is elevated," Buhle explained while interviewed for "Good Morning America," as reported by ABC News. "My community of girlfriends during the hardest part of my life were there for me. They picked me up. More importantly, they pushed me forward, and that community is something that I treasure."

If you or anyone you know needs help with addiction issues, help is available. Visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website or contact SAMHSA's National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).