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 3 aired Sunday, October 23rd, 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 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 3 of HBO’s Divorce, to tell us how it should be handled to put Robert in the best position, legally.
Lawyers are Not Counselors – And During Divorce, You May Need Both.
Most lawyers are not good family counselors. That is not what we are trained to do. The lawyers should concentrate on protecting their client’s legal rights, and let the counselors do the counseling. If the lawyer believes that there is a good chance for their divorce client to reconcile, they should refer the client to a professional family counselor or psychologist.
But that does not mean that the lawyers do not proceed with providing legal advice and taking the steps necessary to protect their client’s legal rights.
Obviously, every couple is different. Counseling may help one couple, while only aggravating another. Marriage is extremely important to the foundation of civilization. The family unit is the basic structure of our society. Every effort should be taken to try to save a marriage.
“The family unit is the basic structure of our society. Every effort should be taken to try to save a marriage.”
Robert was correct to attend the counseling sessions with Francis. He did not cause the turmoil in his family. He was not planning to divorce Francis. His marriage was important to him and his family, and it was well thought to explore reconciliation.
Where Robert went wrong was in failing to maintain possession and control of the family home and children. He should not have let Francis back in the house. He should have contacted an attorney for advise on his legal rights. He should have obtained a Temporary Protective Order to secure control of the home and children while trying the counseling. Now he has forfeited his uphill position. He is out of his home and Francis has control of the children.
Three weeks have gone by, and Robert still does not know his legal rights. If he continues on this course of action he will end up paying a lot of alimony and financing Francis’ new art gallery.
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 3 of HBO’s Divorce.
Frances Needs to Move Quickly to Get a Lawyer.
Frances is back in the house and in control. That is good news for her, bad news for Robert. But as her friend has suggested, Frances needs to move quickly to get a lawyer and get temporary court orders to protect her position and her interests with the children, the family home, and financially. Those temporary orders will carry through the divorce process and will very likely be the basis for the final orders. They are very important!
In any legal matter, it is always better to be the proactive party, not the one who is reacting. When you are proactive, you are calling the shots and setting the parameters of what is to come. If you are put in a re-active position, you are forced to respond to the other by following the guidelines they have already set. Sometimes being reactive is easier but being proactive is always a superior strategical position. Being the one to file paperwork first is the proactive move and puts you in a position of strength and control.
“Frances made a great move during the counseling session when Robert admitted to having been tempted by an old college friend.”
Frances made a great move during the counseling session when Robert admitted to having been tempted by an old college friend. Whether it was conscious or not, Francis took that information and was able to spin it and put the negative focus on Robert for his “emotional affair.” Again, a good strategical divorce move. She took the offense by putting the negative focus off her and put Robert on the defensive.
Marriage counseling definitely has its place and can be a good move. But it takes the focus off the future and puts it on the past. From a legal perspective and, in many cases, an emotional health perspective, it is important to focus not on the past but on the future. How are you going to move forward ? Again, an opportunity for being proactive.
A word of caution to Frances is warranted. Starting a new business venture in the midst of the other turmoil going on in her life can be very risky. This is particularly true when that venture involves a big financial commitment during the course of divorce. While the female audience is likely cheering on Frances’ career independence move, yellow flags are going up in the legal minds.
Be very, very cautious Frances. And Get An Attorney! There is a lot at stake… for you and the entire family.