What We Can Learn from Celebrity Divorces

By Nancy Bickford,

Bickford Law


Charlie Sheen and Denise Richards divorced

, Sheen sent Richards an email calling her “a sad, jobless pig who is sad and talentless and sad and jobless and evil and a bad mom…” During Christy Brinkley’s divorce from Peter Cook, she was accused of breaking into Cook’s office, copying his hard drive and scratching his face out of family photos. Divorces—whether celebrity or not—can get pretty ugly. Luckily, most of our divorces don’t end up in headlines, but even so, don’t we want them to go as smoothly as possible? Celebrity divorce lawyer Laura Wasser has learned a lot about messy divorces in her twenty years as a lawyer. Here are some

tips she offers

on how minimize the trauma involved in divorces.

Communicate Your Expectations:

Wasser is always surprised by how many married couples have never talked about their expectations. She recommends that even though “conversations about money are not sexy” it’s important to talk about financial expectations with your partner. She suggests discussing budgets and whether or not you’ll be maintaining joint or separate accounts. In addition to finances, Wasser recommends discussing expectations regarding other important issues such as how to raise children, where you’ll live, what kinds of vacations to take, and work and home responsibilities. If you and your future spouse are considering entering into a

premarital agreement

, the process of negotiating that agreement will often spark important discussions regarding of many of these financial issues.

Know When To Fold:

Wasser acknowledges that it is a very personal decision and there are no “magical signs” that tell you when it’s time to end your marriage, but she feels that it might be appropriate to consider making a change when “the bad starts outweighing the good on a consistent basis.” The most common

legal basis for a divorce

is “irreconcilable differences”. The ambiguity of this term is a perfect illustration of the range of reasons a marriage might end. She also recommends arriving upon this decision with the help of counseling.

The Golden Rule:

Wasser recommends you treat your ex the way you would like to be treated by being kind, reasonable and brief. Your ex may continue to be a


or business partner, so try not to let your emotions and anger control the situation.

Lawyering Up:

Wasser suggests that in order to find a lawyer you should solicit referrals from other professionals you know (e.g., your accountant or banker). Also look at Bar Association listings and do your research on the Internet. Before you choose a lawyer, explore the lawyer’s record of achieving settlements via mediation/negotiation versus via court proceedings and determine the lawyer’s fees, terms and availability. Also, make sure that you choose a lawyer you feel comfortable with because it’s very important for you to stay involved in the process. A review of our

client testimonials

can help you decide if our firm is the right for you.

Think Outside the Box:

Wasser believes that family law has evolved and that it’s not helpful to cling to old ideas about how marriages unravel. She believes that many of today’s divorce lawyers focus on helping their clients emerge from the divorce with a strong mind and spirit. She also believes that they have a strong desire to help their clients move on to the next stage in their lives post-divorce.

The United Front:

Although it may be the last thing you want to do, Wasser recommends having your ex’s back, especially in front of your kids and their teachers and school administrators. It’s important, she believes, that you communicate and reinforce the following sentiment to your children: Although our configuration is different now, we are still a family united through our unique and special relationship with each other.

Divorce is never easy, but steps can be taken to make it less traumatic. If you’re seeking representation, please find me at

, on


or by phone at 858-793-8884.