Marriage Story – should it happen that way?

Have you watched the movie Marriage Story? Do you think the movie is a good representation of what should happen in a divorce? If you answered yes, then you are wrong. There are so many examples in the movie of what should not happen in a divorce. 

I have never been involved in an initial consultation where the attorney takes off his/her shoes and sits closely to the potential client on a soft couch and acts like they are old college roommates. The attorney was clearly manipulating the wife in her most vulnerable moment to gain trust. 

Then, the wife completely blindsided her husband during his visit with the child by serving him with divorce papers. This set the tone for the divorce process and they immediately became adversaries, instead of working together for a common goal. Imagine how the husband felt receiving those papers during a time when he was supposed to enjoy being with his child. Not to mention they had both previously discussed resolving the issues between themselves, not hiring attorneys. I assume he felt surprised, shocked, angry, and viewed his wife as dishonest. This really set a bad tone for the entire process. 

The wife should never had allowed her attorney to dictate the custody schedule. The wife wanted a 50-50 schedule with her husband, but her attorney would not allow it because she did not want to give the husband “bragging rights.”  

For me, the most cringe-worthy moment in the movie is when the attorneys are arguing in open court and making disparaging comments about the other party. Each attorney is telling the Judge what an awful parent the other is. They are only saying negative things about the other party and the attorneys cannot seem to calm down. This does happen, and it happens too often in litigation cases. However, it does not make it right! 

At the end of the movie, the parties had a moment when they remembered how much they did love each other. It was the moment when the child was reading the wife’s notes that listed all the things she liked about her husband. It was the same notes she was supposed to read to the husband at the beginning of the movie during their marriage therapy sessions, but she refused and walked out of the session. Could they had erased all the bad things that took place during their divorce by just reading the notes at the beginning?  

The whole divorce process (and the ending) could have been different if the parties remembered all the good/positive attributes of the other party, the parties dictated the process, the parties decided how they would resolve their issues, the parties were honest and forthcoming and treated each other with respect and dignity, the parties were focused on a common goal, and they saved money by not fighting in court. Sounds like a better way to divorce, right? There is a better way and it is the collaborative process. 

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