Divorce lawyers love weddings. We consider them to be the proof of hope over experience. The more callous among us call them inventory. We know a sizable percentage will one day be in, if not our own, some of our colleagues’ offices.
Funny thing about divorce lawyers though is that so many of them are hopeless romantics themselves. I know many of my fellow family law attorneys are actually desperate to get married, which always makes for fun cocktail conversation at those bar association networking events.
As we’re moving into wedding season I become more aware of the parties and showers that happen. It always amazes me that there is such a festive atmosphere, and yet so little discussion about the business side of a marriage; the actual day to day, what does it really mean, what are the expectations of each of them going forward. Maybe I should do a webinar on it for men to explain to them the contractual obligations of what they are doing. That it really is more than just showing up in a tux, semi-sober, and saying “I do.”
I think my favorite type of wedding is the Indian wedding. I was reminded of this over the weekend as I was working out at the Loews Hotel. Walking into the lobby, I was faced with half the lobby being consumed by an Indian wedding party. The young girls in their oh so colorful saris and the young men in their traditional garb made for a delightful scene. The fabrics with their gold and silver interwoven shimmered from the lobby lights.
This was obviously a very wealthy family, and though I have no idea what premarital planning they did, I am hoping that there was a greater discussion than normally happens in most marriages. So often when I ask my clients about what they discussed with their spouses prior to marriage, the answer is a deafening silence. People go into marriage with so little knowledge, and so many preconceived notions, it’s hardly a wonder then that there is a huge letdown after the glow of the wedding frenzy smolders out.
In some ways the current generation is making progress on this issue, they are just avoiding marriage. That may be because they have so much experience with their own parents’ nightmare divorces that they are deciding to avoid the complications. I’m seeing more pure custody cases these days than divorces. People still make babies evidently.
Perhaps the withdrawal from marriage is due to the way the spousal support laws are gender neutral and with successful women having to pay spousal support to their stay at home husbands the word is getting around that marriage is not such a hot deal for a woman who is the primary breadwinner. We have a few divorces going on right now where the husband is entitled to spousal support and to say that the soon to be paying spouse is a bit resentful is an understatement. Gloria Steinem never mentioned this as a possibility when she was pushing for equality.
But as I so often point out to people, so long as there are gay men and girls who want to be princesses for a day, there will be fabulous weddings. Some more fabulous than others. Some marriages more successful than others. There is no correlation between the expense of the wedding and the success of the marriage. We have no better example of that than Kim Kardashian and her multi-million dollar marriage to Chris Humprhies, which lasted a mere 72 days. Britney Spears did outdo Kim though on the brevity of “true love” – a whopping 55 hours is all her marriage lasted to Jason Alexander.
In any case, as we move into the wedding season, and if you know of someone who is taking the plunge this year, take them aside and have a conversation about what marriage really means. The commitments, emotional and financial, to another, so that as they go into the hallowed state of marriage, they have a better idea of what they are getting themselves into, and hopefully they can avoid being in my office.
David Pisarra is a Los Angeles Divorce and Child Custody Lawyer specializing in Father’s and Men’s Rights with the Santa Monica firm of Pisarra & Grist. He welcomes your questions and comments. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 310/664-9969.You can follow him on Twitter @davidpisarra.