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  • Writer's pictureClaire Tan 陈律师

Getting a Divorce? Watch 'Marriage Story' first.

Communication breakdown, is the primary reason why a divorce turned ugly. Why on Earth do two people who used to love each other, then turn against and loath each other?

The couple in 'Marriage Story' agreed not to go through lawyers. It was meant to be a peaceful breakup - it didn't seem like there was any dispute about child custody and property split - until Nicole (played by Scarlett Johansson), prompted by a co-worker that she barely knew, went to see Nora Fanshaw (played by Laura Dern).

Nora was supposed to be a 'great' family lawyer, maybe because she fought hard for her client. Aggressive, very aggressive. Was it necessary? No. Was it what Nicole wanted? No.

This article by Town&Country recounts what Laura Wasser, apparently known as 'Hollywood's Divorce Queen', said about Nora Fanshaw - "Laura Dern did an excellent job portraying kind of the worst version of a Family Law attorney. A caricature of the evil divorce lawyer."

Laura Wasser also said she believes that it is advantageous during divorce proceedings for clients and lawyers to be more generous and understanding than what was portrayed in Marriage Story.

And she also said, recounted in this article by Vulture, "If you don't want to end up like these people, and have somebody like this representing your spouse, you ought to really think carefully about how you embark upon the road to divorce.".

There's a quote in the movie that I somewhat agree - "Family law attorneys see good people on their worst behaviour. Criminal attorneys see bad people on their best behaviour."

Separation and the emotional turmoil during this time are some of the worsts things that one could experience. To have a discussion about kids and property and money at this point? Bad idea. Worse if you have a lawyer like Nora.

Some take-home messages from the movie:

  1. Concentrate on the legal important things.

  2. Concentrate on solving the real problems and real legal issues and dispute.

  3. Don't be distracted by the silly irrelevant details just to denigrate another.

Of course, unless you are prepared to pay a lot to your family lawyer.

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