SAN DIEGO, September 28, 2016 – From my perspective as a family law attorney who has looked at the intimate details of hundreds of marriages and partnerships ending in divorce, it is rarely love or the lack of it that determines whether a marriage is healthy and will go the distance.
Marriage is all about trust and communication. Without trust, neither partner in the marriage feels on solid ground. As if balancing on a ball, the slightest negative burst of wind can knock a person over. Without communication, both partners are making judgments based on false information, or no information at all.
When a marriage turns out to be based on lies, it’s almost always doomed. This is why the fallout from Angelina Jolie filing for divorce from her husband of two (or more, we aren’t truly sure) years, Brad Pitt, has been such a shocker.
There are endless social questions about the situation. We can’t help but be fascinated by it. Brad and Angie, infamously known as “Brangelina,” are as close as America gets to royalty. They are ridiculously good looking people, talented actor and actress, who also seem to have a real sense of community responsibility. Sure, OK, they have a little bit of the crazy in them, but it seemed to work just fine for them.
Until it didn’t anymore. This is the disconnect for the public, who believed they were seeing one thing until it became something different.
Unlike many of the “marriage experts” commenting about the effect of this news on all those mere mortal married people, someone else’s marriage doesn’t have any direct effect on our own. Everyone likes juicy celebrity gossip, and it’s human nature to take a little bit of mean satisfaction when famous people whose lives seem beyond perfect turn out to be regular folks when it comes to relationships.
After you get over the initial news on TMZ, let’s all bear in mind Brad, Angie, and especially their six children are real people with real problems. A family and children are being torn apart in the public eye. It is easy fodder for jokes to late night comedians, but not to them. Going through a divorce or dissolving a longtime partnership can be the most traumatic experience someone will ever face, often more difficult than dealing with the death of a loved one.
When people find themselves contemplating a divorce, they walk through my door hurting, anxious and fearful of what the future holds. My job as a family law attorney is to make the hard parts of the process simple from a legal standpoint, and provide the best advice possible to help an individual make the decisions that are right for them and their family. If either Brad or Angelina came through my door tomorrow, this is what I’d do for them.
Was there a prenuptial agreement put into place before Brad and Angie got married? If so, this could make any settlement between their two considerable personal fortunes a lot less messy, assuming the prenuptial agreement is solid. All of this could depend on what agreements they can reach for the welfare of the minor children. If the couple can at least present a united front regarding the welfare of their children, everything else goes much more easily. Their children are their most important asset.
It seems however there are some messy allegations involving parental abuse by Brad Pitt due to some sort of outburst during a private plane trip. This will all need to be sorted out in addition to the usual divorce matters.
Without assuming anything to be true or not in this case, the prospect of one parent making serious allegations against another parent can wreck havoc on the emotional well being of their six children, who end up being the true victims whether or not anything really happened. The details will be endlessly discussed on entertainment media coverage.
The couple and their attorneys need to think about their children’s future instead of their anger and perceived wrongs by one against the other. Any details hashed out in ugly litigation are a public record. Once their children, who range in age today from eight to 15 years old, become 18 years old, they can access those records and read them like any other member of the public.
Despite their very serious issues, these two people need to do whatever it takes to keep their private lives private in this matter if they wish to avoid a circus and a long, drawn out, expensive divorce.
Alternative dispute resolution such as Collaborative Divorce, private mediation, or confidential judicial arbitration is the way to go. It should be handled as swiftly as possible. If there are true findings about allegations of abuse, or any other dangerous behavior in the marriage, this might be difficult.
In all other circumstances, I urge couples to try their best not to sweat the small stuff, make it as quick and clean as possible. This is where having a divorce coach to help you focus as recommended in the Collaborative model is so valuable. Anyone going through divorce via any method should strongly consider working with a mental health professional.
There IS one useful reminder to all couples from the “Brangelina breakup” story. It’s good to take stock of what is good and what is not so good about your own marriage or long-term relationship. All marriages and long-term relationships have their ups and downs for as many reasons as there are individual people. Sometimes, people can’t or won’t get past the downs. This is why they end up in my office seeking a divorce.
It is also a reminder for everyone to put their spouse or partner first every single day in their relationship. This is what makes a relationship last forever. Your relationship is not in any way dependent on news of a celebrity’s relationship meeting its demise. If that were true, no one in America would be married anymore.
Whether or not you’re a celebrity, everyone going through a divorce needs to know that it’s going to get worse before it’s going to get better. But it will get better. From there, you can face the reality of focusing on your own healing, and see yourself and your family through to a healthier, happier future.
Myra Chack Fleischer serves as Lead Counsel for Fleischer & Ravreby in Carlsbad, California with a focus on divorce, property, custody and support, settlement agreements, mediation, asset division and family law appeals. Read more Legally Speaking in Communities Digital News. Follow Myra on Twitter: @LawyerMyra. Fleischer can be reached via Google +
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