Divorce Tips from Attorney Laura Wasser

October 2, 2013
Louis Sternberg

10 Tips from Celebrity Divorce Attorney Laura Wasser

This weekend, the New York Times Magazine printed an article entitled “Power of 10 | The Secrets of an A-List Divorce Attorney.”

The article lists Wasser’s “10 rules for how to get divorced in a civilized manner.”  Although these tips are DO NOT guarantee a civilized divorce, adhering to these tips makes it much more likely that the marriage will be dissolved in a peaceful manner.

1. Marriage is a contract.
“If the ‘provider’ is no longer able to provide the unlimited credit card spending at Prada, Chanel, Gucci and Hermès, the deal has changed. A new deal must be negotiated.”

2. Divorce is a business transaction.
“Although it’s incredibly emotional, emotions should not come into your negotiations. Rise above it, like Katherine Hepburn or Lady Diana.”

3. Dissolve it before it gets ugly.
“You do not want to find yourself staring at the sleeping frame of your spouse or partner and contemplating suffocation by pillow. You also don’t want to get so frustrated you simply pack a suitcase and flee mindlessly.”

4. Before discussing divorce, consider what you want to say.
“The opening conversation is critical. The way it goes down is likely to be the way of the dissolution. Write a ‘nice’ letter. Do not say, ‘I will nail you to the wall.’”

5. Keep your feelings to yourself.
“Do not disclose too much information except to your attorney and to your therapist if you are seeing one. You do not have to tell everyone how bad it was or why it ended.”

6. Be prepared to share.
“If you were the breadwinner, be prepared to give half of everything and child support. I often see women who are very surprised they need to pay him, but the law doesn’t see any difference with gender now. Nor is there a presumption that kids will go to Mom. Many states favor joint custody.”

7. Do not behave badly in front of your children.
“I think the worst case was a woman who screamed every profanity on a three-minute telephone message. She screamed how awful he was, and swore and cussed at him and said everyone despised him. Then you hear, ‘I don’t hate you, Daddy!’”

8. Be graceful under pressure.
“One client’s wife managed to steam the labels off all of the several hundred bottles in her husband’s prestigious wine collection, so the collection was worthless. The husband hosted ‘What’s that wine?’ dinner parties.”

9. Split assets together.
“Grab a bunch of Post It notes and walk through the home together civilly, saying what each of you would like.”

10. Don’t sleep with your ex-partner.
“A sexual relationship means it’s still on, legally and for claiming. Separating means separating.”

Wasser’s Book, “It Doesn’t Have to Be That Way: How to Divorce Without Destroying Your Family or Bankrupting Yourself” is highly recommended for anyone considering a divorce.