DIVORCE ANNOUNCEMENTS: GREAT IDEA OR FOOLISH PLAN?

            Yesterday, we received a divorce announcement from a long-time colleague. It was printed in calligraphy on heavy vellum stationery and placed inside a gold-lined envelope.  A small square of beige tissue paper separated the announcement from the envelope.  It was indeed very elegant.  At first—and second— glance we thought it was a formal wedding invitation and had to look at it a few times to let the words sink in:

It is with the greatest relief and pleasure that

Jane Doe-Smith

Announces her divorce from

John Smith

Finally free at last, she will hereafter be known as

Jane Doe

And thanks you in advance for your well wishes and patience

 

            It was quite a two-fer: she announced her divorce and slammed her ex both at the same time!  We were left to wonder about the logic and intelligence of sending out the announcement.  One sends out wedding announcements; why not send out missives that you are no longer wedded?  If you send out announcements that you happy to marry, why not send out the same that you are happy to be un-married?

            To each his or her own, of course, but also remember what you want to convey.  Do you simply want to let those close to you know that you are no longer married, that you’ve gone back to your maiden name, that you’ve changed your address?  What is the intent behind the announcement? Will it come off as snarky and mean-spirited and slightly mentally off-balance? Why do you feel the need to make it look like a wedding announcement?

            Keep your children in mind, if you have them.  You may be relieved and happy to be divorced but your children may be hurt and confused.  Essentially saying, “Good riddance to bad rubbish” about your children’s father can be very hurtful to them and may strain your relationship for years to come as well as damage them emotionally.  Family members may be humiliated or embarrassed by the display. It may reflect poorly upon you at work.

            Be mindful of potential land mines when you announce your divorce, be it a formal announcement or on social media.  There is more than just you involved.

The fallout from Russell Crowe’s Divorce Auction

Under the guise of paying for his wife’s spousal support, actor Russell Crowe recently promoted and held a very public “Divorce Auction.” He raised $3.7 million by selling memorabilia from his films.  His actions beg the question – why do this?  Most people, and certainly celebrities, value their privacy when it comes to divorce. And yet, Crowe has done the opposite.  It turns out his motivations may be more emotional than financial. 

Crowe has acknowledged that the process was a way to cope with the divorce from someone he has been with for 20 years. “Getting to this point with the divorce, and no matter how amicable a split is, you’ve still got to unwind things at a deep level,” he explained. We all deal with divorce in unique ways and this appears to be his.   His preparation for the auction took a year and was a process he described as “joyful.”  While the public has generally celebrated the divorce auction, providing heavy media coverage, one cannot help but wonder what kind of impact this has had on Crowe’s estranged wife, Danielle Spencer.

What about his wife??

While the auction may have been cathartic for Crowe, it may have been humiliating for her. She is not quoted in the news coverage we reviewed, but some reports assumed she must be happy with the huge financial haul.  In fact, this publicity may have been unwanted and humiliating for her and could have ramifications in the divorce proceedings if this causes her to take an adversarial position.  This is particularly true as the couple has two children

The children...... 

One has to wonder what kind of impact this has on their two sons.  Parents typically try to shield their children from divorce proceedings.  Crowe is seemingly doing the opposite and it has the potential to damage their relationships.  While he may have netted a big payday from the auction, the cost to his estranged wife and two children may end up being very steep.  

ARE THERE ANY BENEFITS TO POSTING YOUR DIVORCE ON SOCIAL MEDIA?

           Kendra Wilkinson-Baskett, former Playboy bunny and co-star of the reality TV shows, The Girls Next Store and Kendra on Top has just posted a sobbing Instagram post, claiming she’s “done all I can” in her marriage to athlete Hank Baskett, announcing their split.  This comes after several other similar melancholy video posts. Also trending is actors Channing Tatum and Jenna Dewan-Tatum posing the announcement of their nine-year marriage on social media.  Although their announcement was courteous and generous toward each other, it begs the question: should you post details of your marital difficulties, separation or divorce on Facebook, Instagram, or the like?

            While your name may not be instantly recognizable to the public, it is a familiar one to your public and more importantly, to your children, parents and siblings who may not have been considered before making your marital challenges public domain.  The effects this may have not only on you, but on them is something to seriously think about.

            What you do in the public domain not only has potential consequences for you but also reflects upon those around you.  Additionally, the way you feel at the present moment is not necessarily how you may feel in a week, a month or a year.  You ability to co-parent with your STBX may be jeopardized by your need to seek support, revenge or tell your side of the story right now.

            If you are facing the inevitable challenges of sadness and anxiety as you make decisions about your divorce, you are well-advised to seek personal counseling, clergy  or vent to a trusted friend or family member.  Leave the social posts for good days and positive vibes.

A Positive Look at Drew Barrymore’s Post Divorce Revelations

Barrymore recently opened up about her divorce, and many headlines have zeroed on the same thing – She was in a “very dark and fearful place” after her divorce.  While this is absolutely a relatable and common experience for those who have experienced divorce, we would like to see some of these headlines replaced with a more encouraging and hopeful message. One example that jumped out to us relates to how Barrymore and her ex-husband are co-parenting their two daughters. 

“The exes have remained amicable as they continue to co-parent their two daughters — Olive, 5, and Frankie, 3.”

 This fact was buried at the very end of the article in US Weekly.  It shouldn’t be.  We understand that leading with this idea may not draw as much attention or generate enough clicks.  It is, however, more newsworthy.  Rarely do we see media coverage highlighting how well two divorced people get along or co-parent for the sake of their children, and themselves.  Barrymore’s example should be lauded as #DivorceGoals.  Instead, the reader is focused on how she was in a dark place emotionally and stopped working. 

Effectively co-parenting and remaining amicable with your Ex can often seem unattainable.  It is so important to remember that it is possible.  By publishing stories with this message, media outlets can break from tradition and lead with a message of hope.  One day, we would love to see a headline that reads, “Movie star opens up about divorce – shares secret to co-parenting with love and respect.” 

10 REASONS YOU SHOULD CONSIDER DIVORCE—TRUMP EDITION

The news of Vanessa Trump filing for divorce from Donald Trump Jr., her husband of twelve years, inspired a good deal of conversation about reasons why she—or any woman—would divorce a man of considerable financial means and notoriety. The Trump Jrs have five young children together and while one can only speculate on the reasons for the divorce filing, for any woman, with or without children or with or without money in the bank or nannies at their disposal, the reasons for divorce are the same across all economic or societal levels.  Do any of these apply to you?

            1. There is a lack of respect in your marriage—It’s difficult to remain in a marriage in which you feel dismissed, rejected, insulted, and made fun of.

            2. You feel disconnected from your partner—Not only do you not spend time together, you have little to discuss when you do.

            3. One or both of you has given up trying—Trying to repair the marriage isn’t important anymore.

            4. You disagree whether to have children—One of you wants them and the other doesn’t.  This isn’t something that either of you should give in about. Children should be wanted by both parents.  This is definitely a topic that should have been discussed in depth before marriage.

            5. You are fighting more now that you ever have—Disagreements are more frequent and with greater emotional volatility.

            6. Neither of you wants to compromise—Remember when you each said, “You choose this time and I’ll choose next time”?  Not so much anymore.

            7. You’re not a team—You used to work as a united front in parenting the children and supported each other’s dreams and goals.  Now it’s every man—and woman—for themselves.

            8. You have zero interest in sex or any type of physical intimacy—You don’t find your partner sexually interesting and in fact, may feel like you “have to” have sex although that’s the last thing you want to do.

            9. You spend more time with technology than with your partner—You are both on your phones, scrolling through social media or looking at cat videos on your iPad.

            10. You secretly daydream about being single or with someone else—You imagine your life without your partner...and you like it.

            You certainly don’t need all ten of these items on your mind to begin thinking about divorce, but all of these are red flags that your relationship needs serious consideration.

When the divorce is final, but the battle continues.

After years spent finalizing their divorce, the custody battle between Bethany Frankel and Jason Hoppy over their 7-year-old daughter Bryn continues.”

 Within this opening sentence from a recent E!news article lies an invaluable lesson about divorce – You can be pulled back into court even after the divorce is final.  This is especially true when there are children in common.  The takeaway here is that our actions continue to be evidence even after the judgment is signed and you are officially a single person again.  With this in mind, it is imperative that we act accordingly. 

The frustrating reality is that our actions are evidence before, during and after divorce.  The things we say and do (or don’t say or do) have the potential to be introduced in court by either party.  This is something that is easy to lose sight of but must never be forgotten. 

Post-Divorce Custody Issues

In the case of Frankel and Hoppy, the Judge has re-ordered them to undergo a forensic custody evaluation.  In all likelihood, the evaluator will interview and observe both parties with their daughter.  They will also look into their respective pasts to see if there is anything that will inform their evaluation.  This is where the ‘actions are evidence’ rule will come into play in a BIG way. 

For example, two incidents from Hoppy’s recent past will no doubt be reviewed and contemplated in the evaluation.  Last October, he accepted a plea deal for stalking and harassing Frankel and restraining order was issued.  Earlier in the year, he was again charged with aggravated harassment and also stalking Frankel for, among other incidents, showing up at their daughter’s school to confront her.  Hoppy’s actions will now reverberate as important evidence in the continued custody battle.

How Actions Become Evidence

The fact that he confronted Frankel at their daughter’s school may be interpreted to mean that he makes poor decisions, has anger issues, risked exposing their daughter their legal battle and isn’t making their daughter’s best interests a priority. 

Furthermore, he has demonstrated a pattern of domestic violence behavior when it comes to repeatedly stalking and harassing Frankel.  When a child is exposed to domestic violence, the courts consider it child abuse.  His actions will most certainly be used as evidence against him.

In Hoppy’s case, we are talking about some extreme, criminal, actions.  However, it’s the little things that can bite you.  A voicemail, text, email or argument that paints you in a negative light can be used to later argue that you aren’t interested in co-parenting or are alienating the other parent from the child(ren).  After a divorce is final, remembering that a return to court is always possible helps us to be mindful of the ‘actions are evidence’ rule.  This commitment to mindfulness may just prevent an action that could mean legal trouble in the future. 

CAN GOING THROUGH A DIVORCE MAKE YOU “CRAZY”?

     

           A couple of weeks ago, Stacy Ferguson, aka the singer Fergie, belted out an alternative rendition of the the National Anthem at the 2018 NBA All-star game.  Her sultry, jazzy performance left players and audience watchers at home dumbstruck.  Memes and GIFs of the 42 year-old well-known former lead talent behind the group Black Eyed Peas were quick and merciless.  This follows her crashing the stage twice at an awards show in December, speaking in a non-sensical, stream-of-consciousness speech, announcing that she was going to win an Academy Award, among other strange mentions.

            These questionable actions took place shortly after she and her soon-to-be-ex, actor Josh Duhamel announced their separation and divorce after eight years of marriage and one young son.  Several news outlets began to wonder if the stress of her impending divorce had caused the talented personality to crumble a bit emotionally.

            It begs the question that arises frequently during the process of divorce: “Am I going crazy?”

            Family law attorneys are all too familiar with the emotional stress their clients undergo as do therapists attempting to help women through divorce.

            But here’s the good news: Women—and men—don’t “go crazy” during a divorce but the emotional loss, fears, anger, uncertainty, and pain may make one feel like they’ve lost their emotional footing. 

            The stages of grief and loss—denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance—grab one in waves and aren’t linear.  You may feel that it can’t possibly be true that you’re going through a divorce, followed by unbearable sadness at that reckoning, then anger that it is truly happening, make bargains with God, yourself and anyone who will listen, and then accept that your divorce is fact.  But this happens over and over in either quick or slow succession in any order your emotions need at the time.  The feeling is crazy-making but it is a normal part of the process.  It may happen for weeks, months or years.  It may stop and start.  It may ramp up and recede.  But know this: you are not crazy; you’re a normal person going through non-normal pain.

            Don’t try to avoid the feelings.  What you resist persists.  Understand that your feelings are alright and they are just information.  Valuable information for you to look at and digest.  They are there to help you move forward in your life in a healthy way.  Welcome the feelings, acknowledge them, learn from them and then let them go without judgement or attachment.

            Divorce is a process, not an event.  It doesn’t define you as a person or your worthiness of future love and fulfillment.

8 SIGNS THAT YOUR MARRIAGE IS OVER

              We work with so many women who are contemplating divorce and experiencing the pain of Should-I-Stay-Or-Should-I-Go?  While ending your marriage is a lengthy and involved process, you know that it’s really over when any of these eight situations are present:

            1. You don’t care anymore: The opposite of love isn’t hate; it’s indifference.  It’s not necessary to loathe your husband. When you just don’t care about your marriage or you feel apathetic about trying so hard to make it work anymore, it’s a sign that you just don’t care period.

            2.  You don’t try to spend time together or would prefer not to: You would rather spend time with girlfriends, online, or alone than spend time with him. You go out of your way to be too busy to be alone or make excuses not to.

            3.  You are hostile or contemptuous towards your husband:  Everything he says requires a nasty retort.  The way he talks, the way he smells, his previously funny little habits drive you absolutely crazy and you let him know either by verbal message or non-verbal coldness.

            4.  You daydream about the time when you won’t be with him: You may fantasize being a single woman and may even think about his death.  The idea of being alone without him is far more appealing than being together with him.

            5.  Sex is the very last thing on your mind or your to-do list:  Maybe it’s not even on the list.  The thought of being intimate with him makes you uncomfortable or downright nauseous.

            6.  He has an addiction for which he refuses help:  Whether it’s an addiction to alcohol, drugs, gambling, pornography, shopping, or sex, if he won’t get help with it make sure you get help from a support network such as Al-Anon and then let them support your decision.

            7.  He has had an emotional or physical affair(s) that he refuses to end completely:  If he still works with the woman, texts with her, views her social networking sites, he’s not done and committed to you.  If he is a serial cheater—he’s had more than one infidelity—and hasn’t had therapy to examine why he continues to treat you like this, he likely will do it again.

            8.  You can’t stop fighting in front of the children—Your kids deserve a safe and secure home.  If you can’t stop fighting, get professional help.  If he refuses help or continues to shirk responsibility for his behavior, nothing will change and your kids deserve better than that.

            I hope it goes without saying that if you are doing any of the things on the list such as addictions, affairs, picking fights and refusing help for any of these behaviors, it’s time to take a good look in the mirror and take responsibility for your own behavior.