What You Can Discover From Celebrity Divorces
Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes…
Russell Brand and Katy Perry…
Heidi Klum and Seal…
Maria Shriver and Arnold Schwarzenegger…
It seems like every day we hear about another famous couple heading to divorce court. While their fame and fortune make these couples feel very different from us we would be wise to remember that divorce affects us all the same. Perhaps we can learn something from these couples’ very public struggles to apply to our own experiences and circumstances. We can see the mistakes they make and hopefully avoid them ourselves. Most importantly, we can also learn from these famous couples who handle contentious, embarrassing and public divorces with dignity and maturity, even when it is the hardest thing to do.
Perhaps the best lesson of all came from the Katie Holmes, Tom Cruise divorce a few weeks back. One week we had heard she filed for divorce the next thing we heard is that a divorce settlement had been reached. It was the quickest settlement any of us had ever heard of. Katie played it really smart, instead of rushing into filing for divorce; she took several steps ahead of time to ensure smooth sailing.
Before she filed for divorce from her husband Tom Cruise, Katie consulted a lawyer to find out about her options. If you are considering divorcing your spouse you should do the same thing. Talk to a lawyer before you do anything. Ask what you could reasonably expect to walk away with, what kind of child custody you could achieve, the laws that govern divorce in the state you reside, the length of time a divorce normally takes and what the whole thing will cost you. Come up with a list of questions to get answers to before you decide to do anything you can’t take back.
The other smart thing Ms. Holmes did was decide what she wanted out of the divorce before she set things in motion. After consulting a divorce lawyer Katie decided not to seek spousal support or to try to get 50% of Tom Cruise’s money. This allowed her to work through all the issues quickly and ultimately settle her divorce in only 11 days’ time. What we mortals can take from this example is to come up with an action plan ahead of filing or asking our spouses for a divorce. Before you do anything decide what is most important to you when divorcing. Is it child custody? Spousal support? To retain the family home? Also take a look at the issues you would be most willing to compromise on, since this will inevitably happen. You will save yourself a lot of heartache is you determine your goals ahead of time.
Once you’ve decided to act you need to find good legal representation. Heidi Klum famously interviewed numerous lawyers before deciding on the best representation for her. You should do the same. If you have a leaky roof at your house, you get several roofing companies to come out, inspect the damage, give you a quote and give you a timeline to fix it before you pick out the best fit for your family. The same is true in choosing a divorce attorney, interview several different attorneys before choosing the best fit for you. The bonus to all those interviews? Your spouse cannot choose one of them to represent their side because they could use the information you gave them in the interview against you.
To decide on the right lawyer for you, go back to your list of goals. Find legal representation that can help you achieve your goals in the divorce. Katie Holmes went with top New York family law firm Aronson Mayefsky & Sloan based off of several interviews and their previous history in representing high profile clients (they worked on the Christie Brinkley/Peter Cook divorce case). Getting custody of her daughter, Suri Cruise, was the top goal for Katie Holmes so her choice for legal representation shocked no one when her divorce hit the media. A good, experienced lawyer can make divorce proceedings that much easier for you. It’s important to choose a lawyer whose previous clients and experience match up with your top goals. You need to feel like your lawyer is trustworthy, knowledgeable, and a good advocate for you. Your attorney will be there for you during possibly the worst time in your life so there must be trust and comfort in your relationship.
A good lawyer will tell you that finances will be the biggest hurdle in your divorce. In large part, Katie Holmes was able to obtain a super quick divorce settlement because she did not want spousal support or a 50 percent cut of Tom’s very sizeable fortune. In contrast to that, Maria Shriver and Arnold Schwarzenegger’s divorce proceedings have been long and drawn out over the topics of alimony and who pays whose attorney’s fees.
It’s no surprise to anyone that money is the root of all evil. It can make even the most even keel, friendliest of divorces turn into the most contemptuous, mean proceedings one has ever seen. No matter if you make millions from Hollywood or have a very middle-class income, the subjects of alimony, child support payments, retirement accounts and property settlement are often the biggest sources of struggle in a divorce settlement. Alimony is an especially big source of contention in a divorce. Both parties must agree on a fair amount to pay the spouse that made significantly less than the other one and for how long. Child support is another biggie. How it is calculated varies by state, but in general the needs of the child, the ability of the parents to support themselves, the standard of living the child would have enjoyed had the parents not divorced and provisions for each spouse’s other children are the main factors. Although how heavily each of these factors is weighed is often a source of contention in most divorce cases. If your divorce involves child support, this is where an attorney experienced in family law will come in handy. Choose a lawyer who is very familiar with the family laws in your state and the goals you want to accomplish.
Once you have initiated divorce proceedings be especially careful of social media postings. Facebook posts, Tweets and other social media writings can be held against you in your divorce. Just ask U.S. Representative Anthony Weiner. Former congressman Anthony Weiner learned the hard way that no post is ever truly deleted or private. Near naked photos he sent to women other than his wife came back to bite him in the butt after news broke of his affairs. While many of us less famous folk believe our social media activities are private, that notion simply isn’t true. Not only are our postings not private, they are also not fleeting, as we often believe. Nothing posted online really ever disappears, and what you say may come back to hurt you later on. It’s in your best interest to refrain from commenting on your divorce proceedings or photos that show glimpses into your current life. Things like these can hinder your ability to get spousal support, child custody, and gain favor with the courts in your proceedings. Your best bet? To suspend all your social media accounts until after your divorce is settled.
I don’t want to harp on Katie Holmes and Tom Cruise’s divorce too much, but they have set the new high standard on how to come out on top in divorce cases. Katie’s foresight in handling a lot of details before filing for divorce from her partner of five years helped her achieve a very favorable divorce settlement. In particular she and Tom’s ability to settle their divorce outside of the courts helped keep their split amicably, timely and out of the prying eyes of the public. When parties reach agreements outside of the court, they are not bound by the law. They can create unique outcomes that fit their personal situation. Katie and Tom’s out of court divorce settlement ensured they maintained complete control of the outcome, without allowing the courts to have any say over the outcome. When possible, try to settle out of court in your own divorce. Have you and your spouse’s lawyer’s work out the details on all aspects of the divorce before heading to court to finalize things. Ultimately you’ll get your needs met better this way than if you leave it up to the courts.
While we may feel we have very little in common with the Hollywood crowd, we certainly can use the very public display of their mistakes as a guide on what not to do in our own lives. Divorce is one of those life events that affects all people, famous or not, profoundly. Take a cue from the rich and famous on how to best proceed with divorce to come out with the best outcome in our own lives.
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