If you are getting divorced or thinking about divorce, you must see the Netflix movie, “Marriage Story”. My son saw it and asked if divorce law was really like the movie.
So I decided to watch it. Scarlett Johansson and Adam Driver fall in love, get married and have a son together. Inevitably, different agendas and unwritten agreements bring marital discord. They agree to settle their differences amicably without lawyers.
Send in the Divorce Lawyers
The Wife’s Lawyer
The wife hires a divorce lawyer played by Laura Dern. Dern (who reminds me of two or three lawyers I have had cases against) is all sympathy as she listens to the wife’s story. She sits down next to her on the couch in her well-appointed office. At the end of the interview, the wife is crying and the lawyer hugs her. The wife says, “and he is having an affair.” The lawyer says, “That bastard!”
The Husband’s Lawyer
The wife’s lawyer files for divorce so the husband has to find his lawyer. The first one he tries to hire is conflicted out because the wife consulted him. The husband finds that the wife has consulted all the top divorce lawyers in town. The husband hires Alan Alda (who is playing me), a divorce lawyer with a heart. Alda tells the husband that trial is the last resort, but they are unable to settle and the husband hires another lawyer, played by Ray Liotta, to try the case.
All the lawyers get the legal fees. The wife’s lawyer charges $900 an hour and requires a $10,000 retainer up front. Alda informs the husband that he will probably have to pay some of the wife’s legal fees as well.
Once the lawyers take over, the gloves come off, and they start talking about the wife’s drinking and the husband’s infidelity.
The Custody Evaluation
The custody evaluator is a hoot. You can feel the discomfort building as she observes the husband and son interacting together at dad’s apartment. By the end of the scene, you know that dad is going to get an unfavorable report.
“Yes,” I told my son. “That’s what divorce is really like.”