Sarah Jessica Parker returns to HBO in the new comedy series, Divorce. Parker stars as Frances, a woman who suddenly begins to reassess her life and her marriage to Robert (played by Thomas Haden Church) but finds that making a clean break is harder than she thought. Episode 2 aired Sunday, October 16th, 2016 on HBO and the series will feature a new installment into the failing marriage of Frances and Robert every Sunday night.
Divorce Point/Counterpoint: The Experts Weigh In
Hollywood temporarily wanders into our world with HBO’s attempt to portray an all-too-familiar scenario in Divorce. Frances and Robert’s marriage is failing and between the kids, the house, and the extramarital affairs it is hard to determine where to start dividing two lives that have been melding together for so many years. It is not surprising that when the stakes are this high, and the emotions are so fresh, people take part in irrational, irresponsible, and inflammatory actions towards their estranged spouse.
So, where does HBO get it right? And what should Frances or Robert do when real life divorce scenarios take place?
In our weekly edition of HBO’s Divorce: Point/Counterpoint, we will be reviewing the most recent episode of Divorce with two expert Divorce Attorneys (Jeanne Sockle and Frank Morris) that will take the side of either Robert or Frances and give some insight on what their best course of action may be.
We will be using Washington State divorce law in our analysis. Be aware that divorce laws in Washington may or may not be the same as divorce laws in other states. We advise that you consult a local divorce attorney regarding your specific situation before taking any action towards the divorce process.
Divorce Attorney Jeanne Sockle Evaluates Frances’ Situation
Jeanne Sockle is a Principal and Managing Partner in the family law firm of Morris-Sockle. Jeanne was selected as one of Washington’s ’10 Best Family Law Attorneys for Client Satisfaction’ by the American Institute of Family Law Attorneys and she has a perfect 10.0 rating from Avvo. Most recently, Jeanne was recognized by the South Sound Business Examiner as a “Woman of Influence” in 2016. She was kind enough to give us her insight on Frances’ position following episode 2 of HBO’s Divorce.
To Reconcile or Not to Reconcile; that is the question.
Frances and Robert are at a very early stage of the separation and divorce game but both are already experiencing the angst that is a very real part of the process. We go into marriage believing in the bliss of “happily ever after.” We come out of marriage with broken hearts, broken dreams, and often true feelings of failure in not having achieved that magical goal of a full lifetime of happiness.
In HBO’s Divorce, Frances is pleading with Robert for a second chance. At least, for the short term, she has maneuvered her way back into the family home. It’s a good time for the couple to seriously consider whether or not they want to make their marriage work.
For Frances and Robert, we know that is unlikely to happen, or else it will be one of the shortest lived television series ever. But for most of us, it is a question that deserves true consideration. Divorce, for the most part, is a lose/lose situation. Everybody is hurt emotionally and financially; and kids are damaged irreparably. But sometimes, after all the consequences are weighed, divorce is simply the best answer.
“Divorce, for the most part, is a lose/lose situation. Everybody is hurt emotionally and financially; and kids are damaged irreparably.”
What needs to be remembered in this process of consideration and reconsideration of options, is that you must learn about divorce and what it will mean for you, in your particular situation, in order to evaluate that option. You can talk to friends, you can “Google”, and you can read, but those approaches can give you bad or incomplete information.
Mostly you just really need to sit down and candidly discuss your circumstances with a knowledgeable and skilled attorney. You need good legal counsel to understand the “what if’s” that are running through your mind, and even more importantly, you need the answers to the questions you haven’t even thought to ask yet.
So, as we discussed last week, separation and divorce is a very emotional decision. But be smart. Do not allow it to be a purely emotional process or you will be doing yourself and your family a huge disservice. Learn the process, get solid legal advice, and make purposeful and knowledgeable decisions about reconciliation versus divorce.
If divorce is the decision, be proactive. Move first to file first to protect what is important to you.
In Frances’ situation, she has no idea what Robert will do next, but she knows what he has done, and what he has threatened to do, in the past. So she would be really stupid to not take steps now to learn what her rights are and to protect her own interests; even if she does it at the same time she is asking Robert to give their marriage another chance.
Divorce Attorney Frank Morris Evaluates Robert’s Situation
Frank Morris, co-founder of Divorce Lawyers for Men, has been successfully practicing family law for over 37 years. He is a recipient of the American Trial Lawyers Association’s ‘Citation of Excellence’, he has won Million dollar claims for his clients, and he has a perfect 10.0 rating on Avvo. Frank was kind enough to weigh in on Robert’s position following episode 2 of HBO’s Divorce, to tell us how it should be handled to put Robert in the best position, legally.
Emotionally over stressed decision making is not good decision making.
No one likes Divorce. Everyone prefers a happy reconciliation to their relationship. But an ill thought, short term, attempted reconciliation is to no one’s benefit. There is no benefit from an immediate reconciliation if the the problems that caused the breakup have not been dealt with.
Robert learned that Francis had not only been cheating on him, but was leaving him and the children for her new boyfriend. That is a big deal. That is not a little “bad day” fight. Rebuilding a solid foundation for this marriage to survive will take time, thought, and, most likely, professional help.
Jumping back together without solving the underlining problem(s) will only delay an eventual divorce, and prolong the emotional suffering for everyone involved.
“He should have proceeded with filing the petition for divorce, and obtaining Temporary Protective Orders to secure the position he had achieved.”
Robert had previously taken well-thought, decisive action. He was in control of the children and family home. He should have proceeded with filing the petition for divorce, and obtaining Temporary Protective Orders to secure the position he had achieved. Once the Temporary Protective Order was in place, he could calmly consider his next step. Now he has forfeited his uphill position and advantage. He no longer controls possession of the children or home.
Discussions of reconciliation should not be made in an emotionally overwrought setting, and definitely not in the presence of the children. There needs to be a brief cooling off period to let the emotions settle down. The parties need to agree to meet in a neutral location, where either could withdraw if necessary. Both parties need to be able to approach the discussion in a calm and reasonable manner.
Robert is now back to scratch. It is nearly impossible to have a productive reconciliation discussion while both parties are living in the same house in a hostile setting. The children have now been drawn into the middle of the divorce. Again, it will be nearly impossible to get Frances out of the house and regain control of the house and children without a protracted court intervention. Frances is now on equal footing with Robert to win temporary custody and possession of the family home.
Not a good move by Robert.