Celebrity Divorces


The Dos and Don’ts of Celebrity Divorces

Celebrities want to be noticed. That is why they are actors, right? They want to be noticed for their performances in shows and movies - and even in their private lives (just look at the Kardashians). When celebrities go through a divorce, many, if not most, want to be noticed. As divorce attorneys, we enjoy watching and analyzing celebrity divorces. It is interesting to review what each spouse did right and wrong during the process. This blog analyzes just that: the dos and don’ts of celebrity divorces.

Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin

Gwyneth and Chris’s divorce was well-known for the term they coined “conscious uncoupling.” Both legitimized the concept known as the “third wheel.” The third wheel involved hanging out with your former spouse and their new spouse. While no one wants to be the third wheel, the one without the date, there can be a positive spin here. Some celebrities can remain friends with their old spouse and their new one. Gwyneth and Chris set the example when they vacationed with their new spouses.

Some psychologists criticize the practice of hanging out with a former spouse, arguing it could cause confusion for the children. On the contrary, we feel this could be a good idea. If you can hang out with your former spouse and your new one, this provides an opportunity to show your children it is possible. Your children can see both of their parents together, acting in a civil manner and being respectful, which is beneficial to them.

While this dynamic is not for everyone, and certainly not for families dealing with domestic violence, it is healthy to show a level of respect to the former spouse and their new partner – especially in front of your children. Your children will see you laugh at their father’s/mother’s jokes and show an interest in his/her life, all while being secure enough to hang out with the new spouse.

Charlie Sheen and Denise Richards + Jennifer Garner and Ben Affleck

Denise left Charlie after one too many all-night benders that resulted in him being fired from his multi-million-dollar sitcom. Jennifer left Ben for the same reasons, including an affair. What both wives did correctly, was not completely withhold their children from their fathers. A lot of parents, particularly moms, will withhold the children from the father if he exhibits behavior that could be harmful – such as drug or substance abuse. Obviously, this is the safest decision, but maybe not the best one. Should you never let a child know their parent then? We believe a child has the right to know the other parent. If this can be done under mom’s supervision, then so be it. However, there is a caveat: A child should never visit their parent if he/she is under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol.

Katie Holmes and Tom Cruise

Generally, you should let your spouse know what is coming if you want to divorce. Who wants to get served divorce paperwork at work in front of co-workers? Starting your divorce with that type of aggression tends to lead to more aggression in return. Generally, we would advocate for a short, one-or two-day notice before serving the spouse, not enough time for the spouse to hire their own attorney and beat you to the courthouse, but enough advance warning to remove some of the sting.

Katie Holmes surprised Tom Cruise when she moved to New York with their child. Katie wanted to get divorced in New York where child custody laws were more favorable, so she took their child and moved there without telling Tom. The takeaway here is that you generally should provide advance notice to your spouse about filing for divorce - except when it is beneficial not to or when your spouse is overly controlling and/or violent.

Amber Heard and Johnny Depp

These two are examples of what not to do in a divorce situation. However, as mentioned earlier, for celebrities there is no such things as bad publicity. Amber left Johnny after he allegedly hit her. Johnny always denied the abuse, but also settled the divorce for over $7 million. That is not bad for a one-year marriage. Concurrent with the divorce, the duo released a joint statement declaring, “Neither party has made false allegations for financial gain.”

In 2018, Amber wrote an op-ed piece accusing Johnny of domestic abuse during their marriage. Then in 2020, Johnny sued both Amber and the paper that printed her statement. His lawsuit sought $50 million. The verdict is still outstanding. However, the couple slung mud, rocks, and mortar for three weeks accusing each other of volatility, violence, defecation, (on the bed) and more. Neither party will emerge unscathed at this point. Even if either party’s story is to be believed, it is clear to the public that both seem a little cuckoo. The moral of the story: Do not air your dirty laundry for all to see.

Why Working with An Attorney is Important

Most parties’ divorces will not be the next big news story, but you never know what the future holds. Divorce records, both the filed pleadings and the recordings, are public and can be obtained by anyone. You might want to be careful about what information is put into your divorce pleadings, even if you do not care who sees your divorce petition.

Employers, the Children’s Youth and Family Department (CYFD), and others could have a field day with you or your spouse’s indiscretions. You might want to engage in mediation to keep trial recordings private. You can also file a document called a Declaration in lieu of Divorce Decree whereby your actual divorce decree remains hidden from the public eye.

At Sandia Family Law we are well-versed in the common pitfalls of divorce and how to help you reach an amicable divorce resolution. We have years of experience helping client find favorable results through mediation - especially for high-net worth divorce settlements.

Contact us online or give us a call at (505) 544-5126 to get started on your divorce.

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