Every aspect of our lives is fodder for Hollywood. Just as four weddings and a funeral can become the stuff of movie legend, divorce is often a topic, too. Some are pitch-perfect, like 1979’s Kramer Vs Kramer1 (which nails the emotional roller coaster flawlessly), but some are tone deaf and feature Roseanne Barr. Some of the things movies get wrong about divorce can actually show how getting a divorce can be right for you.
Divorce is the Power to Reinvent Yourself
The movie Joy2, about inventor Joy Mangano as portrayed by the talented Jennifer Lawrence, makes her divorce seem to be the driving force in her life. A divorce is a major life event, no doubt, but it seldom needs to be the outside power necessary to reinvent your life. Joy and her mop would have existed without the divorce. She had already invented something before her divorce, so the seed was there.
One thing that the movie gets right is the friendship the two divorced parents have with each other. They divorced amicably, and stayed friends with no ulterior motives. You could have that, too. Divorce in Virginia need not be a melodrama. You and your wife can legally divorce from the bonds of matrimony and still have a bond of respect and friendship.
Divorced Dads are as Numerous as Popcorn Kernels
While we certainly stay busy as a law firm specializing in helping men through issues like divorce, divorce is still not as common in people’s lives as it is in the movies. Audiences are drawn to the wounded hero, and a quick, easy wound a screenwriter can inflict is to make your main character suffer divorce.
Think about it. Here is a quick list of just some divorced characters in movies:
- Frank Abagnale Jr. (Catch Me If You Can)
- Jackie Harrison (Stepmom)
- Chris Gardner (The Pursuit of Happyness)
- June Carter (Walk the Line)
- Jane and Jake (It’s Complicated)
- Erin Brockovich (Erin Brockovich)
- Birdee Pruitt (Hope Floats)
The Virginia Department of Health reports 29,465 divorces granted in 2013, the most recent year data is available. Weigh this against Virginia’s 55,148 marriages in the same year and you can readily see divorced Dads and Moms are far rarer than married folks.
Divorce Makes Children Become Charmingly Quirky
Just about every divorce movie features children who are preternaturally mature. They parent their own parents, offering sage advice and keen insights. They develop charming quirks and vibrant, unique personalities.
Think of Marcus in About a Boy3. His mother is a basket case of suicidal tendencies and wretched fashion sense. He latches onto single adult Hugh Grant in a strange, symbiotic relationship, but Marcus is always more mature than his mother.
In reality, children of divorce continue being who they were. With careful listening by a caring Dad, and possibly a bit of counseling to get through the divorce itself, children of divorced parents develop completely normally, and generally with no “old soul” insights to share with their parents.
Divorce Has to be a Battlefield
The War of the Roses4 relates the appalling story told by a lawyer, played by Danny DeVito, of Barbara and Oliver Rose (Kathleen Turner and Michael Douglas) who covet their possessions more than their own lives. Determined to gain control of the house and all their exquisite “things,” they attempt to kill each other. By accident they both die beneath a fallen chandelier. DeVito has related this story to his prospective client, encouraging the client to either prepare for a bloody divorce or go home and patch things up.
Real life is not a morality play. Sometimes people really do need to be apart, and divorce is a civil and elegant solution to that need. It need not become a battlefield, and most lawyers will not provide their clients with charming vignettes about the worst possible outcomes.
Mistresses Ruin Everything
Roseanne Barr really did star in a movie (with Ed Begley, Jr.) called She-Devil5. She is Ed’s wife, angry because he has been cheating with a mistress (Meryl Streep). She destroys all that is precious to him, like his house, career, family and freedom.
This is a train wreck of a movie. It portrays the wife as a scorned manipulator who exerts tremendous emotional and financial capital just to ruin her ex-husband’s life. In reality, many marriages do not end due to adultery, and most women do not spend years working to destroy their former spouses.
According to Statistics Brain, 31 percent of marriages survive admission of adultery. Remember, too, the divorce rate is still staggeringly low, at 3.4 per 1,000 population (about half the marriage rate).
Call the Legal Eagles
The Firm for Men may not be great at movie reviews, but we know Virginia family law. Call us today at 757-383-9184 to learn how we can help you with separation, divorce, child custody, and spousal support. We serve all of Hampton Roads with experience, passion, and advocacy.