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The Law Blogger is a law-related blog that informs and discusses current matters of legal interest to readers of The Oakland Press and to consumers of legal services in the community. We hope readers will  find it entertaining but also informative. The Law Blogger does not, however, impart legal advice, as only attorneys are licensed to provide legal counsel.
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Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Divorce: The HBO Dramedy

Last week, HBO introduced its latest series Divorce, starring Sarah Jessica Parker and Thomas Haden Church. The show takes a dark comedic look at the divorce process from start to finish.

Parker and Church are perfectly cast for this important tale of woe. An extra-marital affair gets things kicked off, and its downhill from there.

Yes, the doomed couple tries counseling; yes, there are divorce lawyers; and there are minor children; even a dog. None of the professionals, each with their own agendas, can repair the marriage. Thus, Divorce, with its difficult intricate process.

Yet, while the divorce process is difficult, stressful, intricate and often painful, it is necessary for a couple -a family- to repair the damage and to move on to more productive meaningful lives. The HBO series demonstrates that how a person chooses to travel the divorce journey matters.

This show benefits from its pilot and first episodes being aired during the most contentious and vicious presidential election in U.S. history. In some ways, the election, which none of us can escape, sets the table for a show like this. Like the presidential candidates going through the election process, spouses in a divorce can take the high or low road; each spouse, just as each candidate, will have their reasons for which road to take.

With the series broken into half-hour episodes, the writing is taut, with the veteran actors making the most of every precious minute to convey the pain and tension of the divorce process. "I want to save my life while I still care about it," Frances -SJP's character- offers as the reason she elected to divorce her husband of about 15-years.

While not for everyone, this series will no doubt appeal -or at least be of interest- to the half of our population touched by divorce. As the institution of marriage has shifted from an economic basis to one based on emotion and love, so too have the reasons married couples call it quits.

Accordingly, over the span of a quarter century, divorce has shifted from a fault-based to a "no fault" legal procedure in every state; neither party need articulate a reason for seeking divorce other than a conclusory allegation that the objects of matrimony have been destroyed. One extension of making the divorce process "user friendly" has been the creation of specialized "family courts" embedded within the court structure of each state.

Divorce, the series, demonstrates, however, that no-fault is never really "no-fault"; especially when there are minor children. There is always plenty of fault to apportion within the confines of a disintegrating marriage; there is often a lack of introspection and self-awareness; plenty of spouses behaving badly.

We here at the Law Blogger cannot help but sense that the divorce process will only become more prevalent. Regardless of the recent innovations designed to streamline and simplify the process, the most significant factor in any given divorce is the actions of the participants: the judge, lawyers and, most importantly, the litigants.

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