Divorce and separation is a hot topic in the news recently. Some big-time couples have called it quits this Summer: Gwen Stefani and Gavin Rossdale, Blake Shelton and Miranda Lambert, Reba McEntire and Narvel Blackstock; just to name the few who made the announcement in the past couple of months. So, what does this have to do with you? Maybe more than you think. Generally speaking celebrity divorces are riddled with allegations of cheating, drugs, alcoholism, and just plain bad-mouthing of the other person. I wouldn’t suggest taking away from celebrity divorces any negative items like these. I would however say that so far, it seems some of them are doing some things right. Maybe it’s for the sake of their children or maybe they are just genuinely good people, but whatever the reason, conducting a divorce in a respectful and classy manner will make a difficult process all that much easier (and cheaper) for everyone involved.
My first piece of advice is to keep your divorce private, particularly if you have children. Remember when you were in high school and you stopped dating that one person and couldn’t help but lambaste them to your friends? Then, as chance would have it, you started dating them again and vividly remember what your friends said about that person when you and the ex were on the “outs”? Well, this is pretty similar. If you have children, remember that more than likely your family and friends will have to interact with your spouse at one time or another. If you have told your family and friends every gritty, foul detail about your divorce, what is to say that they won’t confront the person outside of your presence or worse yet, around your children? The process is grueling as it is. Why give everybody around you a reason to feel that too? By blabbing about the details, you may be able to put this behind you after the divorce is final, but the people who you told about it will probably not. It is likely they will continue to bring it up to you, bringing up bad memories. Nobody ever said, “Wow, I am so glad they told me everything about their divorce.”
Secondly, be civil. It’s that simple. I understand, emotions get the best of you during a divorce. It happens because you are human but sending degrading texts, emails, or making snide comments in your soon to be ex’s presence, is counterproductive. It is counterproductive to the relationship the two of you will need to maintain if you have children, counterproductive to your emotional health, and counterproductive to the legal process if your goal is to eventually settle your case and not go to trial. As badly as the other person may have hurt you, I guarantee you that being the bigger person is what will be remembered by them once the process is over. Somebody once told me that, “Holding onto anger is like holding onto a hot coal, the only one who gets hurt is you.”
Third, (and this applies only to those with children), unless the other parent is an actual danger to your children, let them see the kids. To answer the question in the title, “Why did Jen let Ben stay in the guesthouse?” In Illinois, when the courts determine custody of the children, there are a list of twelve factors, mandated by statute, which the court considers. (I will write about these in a separate blog.) One of the factors is the willingness to facilitate a relationship with the other parent. By Jen letting Ben stay in the guest house, she has put one of those custody factors in her column. She has shown the court that she wants Ben to be a part of their children’s lives. So, I always advise my clients that unless there is a safety issue, work with your spouse on a schedule with the children that allows them to spend time with the kids. Not only is this good for your case, but it is good for your children. Remember your children love you both equally. Just because somebody may be a lousy spouse, does not mean they are a bad parent. The two need to be viewed separately.
Lindsay C. Stella, Esq.
Mirabella, Kincaid, Frederick, & Mirabella, LLC
1737 S. Naperville Road, Suite 100
Wheaton, Illinois 60189