Feb 3, 2020

Surviving Divorce Month

By Ed Goldman

Did you contemplate, initiate, negotiate or complete a divorce last month?

Me, neither. My not being married may have been a factor.

Nonetheless, January was THE month we were “likely to see an uptick in divorce filings,” according to a story in USA Today—whose motto, when first founded by the late Al Neuharth in 1982, was that it was the newspaper for people who didn’t have all day to read one. Or something close to that. I don’t recall. And it’s not like I had all day to look it up, for God’s sake.

Anyway, a divorce attorney named Laura Wasser, “who has represented celebrities such as Angelina Jolie, Johnny Depp and Ashton Kutcher,” told the USA Today reporter “that the first week back”—after Christmas, Hanukkah and Kwanzaa—is not only “always very busy” but also “the highest for either new clients or divorce filings.” I presume Wasser meant the highest number of filings occur then, not how high her clients were at the time. I’m glad she respects that lawyer/client privilege thing.

USA Today: “It’s worth noting that, in general, divorces (and marriages) are on the decline.”

By the way, Wasser has an online divorce site and was apparently one of the role models for another Laura, Laura Dern, in her Oscar-nominated, crazy/scary portrayal of a divorce attorney in ”Marriage Story.” Wasser wasn’t happy with the depiction, to say the least. Google “Divorce Attorney Laura Wasser” and see the tmz.com story. But please come back thereafter.

The article says “the stressors of the holidays season—travel and spending lots of time with family—can ultimately fracture the marriage.” Now, bear in mind that this wasn’t a quote from Wasser, just kind of an expository statement from the reporter, Erin Jensen. I don’t know her but am willing to bet she was glad to return to work in January.

What surprises me is why any of this remotely surprises. 

First, on a very basic level, don’t many of us rush to return gifts we didn’t want as soon as the holidays end? And why wouldn’t that list include a spouse who, like those Pendleton® pajamas we received as a gift, just didn’t fit right even though we always thought we wanted a pair?

JUDGE: Why are you seeking a divorce?

PETITIONER: After 20 years, I discovered I was allergic to wool.

Even though January continues to lead the other 11 months in divorce actions, the article says, “It’s worth noting that, in general, divorces (and marriages) are on the decline.”

Yes, well, let’s not overdo the “duh” element.

No matter how the reporter is using the word “decline”—as in, what marriages do before they end in divorce; or, more likely, to indicate that fewer of us are getting married and fewer of us are getting divorces—doesn’t this clause all but beg for the insertion of the word “ergo”, “thus” or ”therefore”?

If you’re giving your hobbies of studying of cause-and-effect, mathematical probability and logic the morning off, let me spell this out: If we aren’t married, we’re surely not getting divorces. Not even in January.

Ed Goldman's column appears almost every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. A former daily columnist for the Sacramento Business Journal, as well as monthly columnist for Sacramento Magazine and Comstock’s Business Magazine, he’s the author of five books, two plays and one musical (so far).