The on again, off again divorce

Some couples, like Marie Douglas David and George David (and Viacom and Time Warner) can’t make up their minds whether to stay together or to call it quits. Swedish Countess Marie Douglas David and her husband George David reportedly broke up a few times and got back together. This last divorce filing is believed by many to be the end. But you never know. Stranger things have happened that for the Davids to reconcile and go full gear into baby-making in 2009.
Sean Penn and Robin Wright Penn also reportedly cried divorce a few times and got back together. Billionaires Richard and Margaret Mellon Scaife reportedly considered divorce a few times before actually doing it. (You remember that Margaret filed for divorce after a PI allegedly caught her husband Richard in a motel with a woman by the name of Tammy Sue Vasco.)
It’s not just the rich and famous or major cable and entertainment giants who can’t make up their minds whether to go through with the divorce or to fight for the marriage. I have had a few clients who got all the way to the step of submitting the judgment of divorce for filing, who have said to me, “hold off on submitting those papers.”  They are always so apologetic, as if they have done something wrong by changing their minds.
There is nothing wrong with changing your mind about getting a divorce. Look at how Viacom and Time Warner put aside their differences and worked things out at the eleventh hour on New Years Day.  Believe it or not, (and this is pretty ironic since I am a divorce lawyer who has never married) I believe in marriage. I am a traditionalist on this issue and I believe in the notion of “happily ever after” and “till death do us part.” I’ve been wired culturally to think this way; so there is, and probably always will be, the little girl in me who dreams of this happily ever after prince, and the dress, and oh, all the other accoutrements of blissful matrimony – in spite of what I’ve seen and heard as a divorce attorney in New York.
At the same time, I don’t believe in staying in a marriage, or relationship, that “kills your spirit.” You know? So it is definitely, um, how should I say? It is definitely complicated, this whole issue of marriage and divorce and the way I see the whole thing. There is my Catholic side, and then there is my practical cosmopolitan side. And I have no answers, really. I just try to stay abreast of what the law is, so that I can inform my clients about their legal rights and responsibilities. And I leave all the decision making to the client. You are not going to catch me advicing anyone to get a divorce or not to get a divorce.
It’s kind of like the Viacom/Time Warner dispute. If they had “broken up” and gotten a divorce, they probably would have both lost more than they gained and so staying made more sense. Meg James put it well in the Los Angeles Times: “Neither side had much to gain if Viacom had withheld its programming. One media analyst described the potential scenario as ‘mutually assured destruction’ that could lead to Viacom losing advertising revenue and Time Warner losing subscribers.”
So, sometimes, it is a good idea to stay. But sometimes, it is death to stay. I always tell people, make the decision, then call me. I want no blood on my hands. I make no moral judgments or pronouncements. If someone commences a divorce action then later changes their mind about getting a divorce (after I’ve done all this work!) I am totally fine with it.  No, really. I may even secretly be happy for the client. Call me a hopeless romantic if you want. But I wish them success in making their marriage work.
So I have no issues with the on again, off again divorces and divorcees…
Speaking as I was of the Scaifes earlier in this post: Do you remember some of the assets to be distributed in that marriage? (This is pure gossip, I know but still!). It’s like omg. I was just reading on the Wall Street Journal Wealth Report. Here are some of the assets to be distributed in that non-prenup marriage:
* a painting by the Belgian surrealist Rene Magritte known as “Man Wth Derby Hat,” valued at more than $1 million;
* “a rare Biedermier carved, inlaid, ebonized and parcel-gilted lady’s sewing table” from the early 19th century and a table “in the style of John Linnell, circa 1765? — each valued at $200,000;
* an 1889 Washington Agutus Roebling silver-gilt dinner service, including 28 butter dishes and 11 meat dishes, valued at $486,400;
* enough plates to use a different one every day of the year;
* a pair of 9 3/4-inch English porcelain potpourri vases from the mid-18th century, valued at $10,000; and
* a yellow Labrador retriever named Beauregard, deemed “invaluable.”
The dog, it turns out, was one of the biggest sources of tension. After Ms. Scaife tried to wrestle the dog away from a member of Mr. Scaife’s staff one day, she was charged with assault.
But money, of course, was the main issue. Acording to the Post article, Mr. Scaife has trusts valued at more than $1.4 billion. And because he didn’t have a pre-nup, Mr. Scaife is now paying alimony of $725,000 a month. Yes, a month.
And people get upset with Marie Douglas David for asking for $212,000 per month? Give me a break!