Recently, A Marriage Story was nominated for an academy award. The story is about a couple with a young child going through a divorce. The parents lived in New York City, but Wife decided after separating to relocate to Los Angeles. Originally, the parents attempted a collaborative law approach to divorcing. In the beginning of the movie, the couple meet with a mediator to negotiate the terms of their divorce. They seem happy, amicable, and the mediator encourages them to discuss positive attributes about the other. However, the Wife decides to go a different route and hires Laura Dern as her big city, aggressive attorney. Dad follows suite and hires Ray Liotta. The movie sets the scene for a messy, ugly, battle over their child. To show the audience the reality of divorce, the director has a pivotal scene where the husband meets the Guardian ad Litem for the first time. He lives in a tiny apartment in LA. He fumbles through the interview and accidentally cuts himself with a keychain knife to show the Guardian a game, with the same knife, he plays with the child! Also, in his interview with hot shot Liotta, Liotta explains he will need to order a mental health evaluation, a private investigator, and the list goes on until Liotta’s fee reaches the tens of thousands! The parties fight it out in court, but in the end, they reach a peaceful resolution that could have been achieved in that first session with the mediator.
You may be thinking, what does this Hollywood movie have to do with me. What most people do not realize is that litigation can get nasty, expensive, and the court’s decision is the same resolution you reached with your spouse at the beginning of the separation (or worse)! As a licensed collaborative attorney, I try to paint this picture for my clients during our consultation. Collaborative law is a process that keeps the negative and nasty at bay-the parties have an opportunity to stay on task and focus on the end goal without going broke and killing one another along the way. Anyone considering a divorce, please watch A Marriage Story. It is at least entertaining and may show you an amplified way of getting divorced.