Divorce Lessons Learned from A-List Celebrity Splits

Would you take relationship advice from Kim (yes, I had a 72-day marriage) Kardashian? What about asking about the rigors of love and commitment from Liza Minnelli?  Hmmm, probably not the best gurus you could consult based on the fact that the two ladies have had seven marriages between the two of them—unless, for instance, your inquiry is related to the question of how to get married…

But that is a different subject.

It is true that while taking relationship advice from those who frequent the tabloids might not be the wisest course of action, but truth be told, Hollywood can teach us plenty about divorce.  Considering the vast fortunes that are sometimes at stake, some of these practices are definitely worth noting.

Katie and Tom: Plan…and Strike Accordingly

A six-year coupling that had everyone scratching their head – the marriage was Tom Cruise’s third and Katie Holmes’ first.  Admitted “weirdness” aside, it was clear that Katie shrugged off whatever fog seemingly haunted her when she plotted her split from Cruise.  And he was caught totally by surprise.

Insiders says that Holmes plotted and planned for a full six months with the help of her lawyer father in Ohio before surprising Cruise with papers.  Her patience and planning paid off. She determined her personal goals, selected the jurisdiction that was right for her and her daughter (in this case the couple had residence established in both California and New York), and had a PR strategy that allowed her to be presented in a favorable light when compared to some of the negativity that surrounded Cruise.

The lesson:  Build your case, be methodical and patient, and strike at the absolute best moment.

Ben and Jen:  Dates Matter

What a cute couple they were.  Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner seemed like they really had it together.  The wholesome image, the great kids, their overall public happiness with each other.  But then, it all went kaput—the day after their tenth anniversary. It was likely that this little nuance was overlooked by Hollywood relationship gurus and other talking heads that examined all of the reasons for the couple’s break-up—but it must be said that the date of their separation carries some significant legal weight.

Why?  Because there can be many good financial reasons for a woman pursuing a divorce to wait one day over ten years when filing. In some states, divorcing after 10+ years allows for greater amounts of spousal support for longer periods of time.  In addition, and why it matters in the real world, lesser earning spouses can also receive Social Security and certain military benefits after ten years of marriage.

The lesson:  Understand how dates and when filings occur affect divorce outcomes in your state.

Gwyneth and Chris: Keep it Classy

Another “long” Hollywood marriage, Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin seemingly had that perfect relationship that was completely in line with their A-list image. So it was a shock to all of us when Paltrow announced her decision to separate from Martin in March 2014 and then filed for divorce a year later.  However, even though their divorce was finalized in 2016, the pair, along with their children, Apple and Moses, are regularly seen together.  In fact, this couple might actually boast the most amicable, private, and classy divorce in all of Hollywood.

There was no mud-slinging, no bad mouthing—no drama.  Paltrow and Martin entered into a written agreement on property and neither is seeking spousal support.  They share custody of their kids and are actively co-parenting.  In fact, recent family trips include a visit to Mexico for Spring Break and a jaunt to Disneyland.

While Paltrow’s GOOP-y explanation of “conscious uncoupling” spurred some eye rolling, the fact is they are practicing a lesser format of matrimonial law that resembles “Collaborative Law.”  They are making informed and measured decisions and keeping emotions in check.  Focused on being great parents so their kids come out unscathed, they are not airing their dirty laundry, involving the media, or pointing fingers regarding this very private, personal, and always difficult decision.  They are taking the high road.

The lesson:  Be like Gwyneth and Chris.

If a divorce is in your future you might want to involve an experienced divorce lawyer early in the process for the best possible and most turbulence free outcome.

NYC based divorce lawyer Jacqueline Newman is managing partner of a New York matrimonial law firm. Jacqueline can be reached through her Manhattan law office or HERE.  Media and speaking inquiries through her agents at Elite Lawyer Management.

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