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What Can We Learn from Brad and Angelina’s Divorce?

celeb wearing sunglasses holding book
Written by Russell Alexander / (905) 655-6335

Although the lifestyles of celebrities are outside the realm of experience for the rest of us, that does not mean that we cannot relate to them in some respects.

Take the recent divorce announcement by Hollywood golden couple Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie: Although their glamour-filled day-to-day lives are not something that most of us will ever experience, many “average” people will still have much in common with them when in light of the upcoming dissolution of their relationship. In other words, divorce can be equally challenging, sad, and frustrating for everyone, no matter how long or short the relationship, no matter the dollar value of the marital property, and no matter how many kids are involved.

Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt attend the "Cinema for Peace 2012" charity gala during the 62nd Berlinale film festival in Berlin

Here is some advice that is uniformly relevant to separating and divorcing spouses everywhere – whether famous or not:

1. Honesty is the Best Policy

The glare of the media spotlight, and the tenacity of the paparazzi, makes it hard for celebrities such as Brad and Angelina to hide the truth, to keep indiscretions covered up, and to maintain any real privacy at all. But maybe that’s not a bad thing, because it may prompt honesty at a time when truth-telling is most productive.

The divorce process is expedited by honesty, and the post-divorce period will especially thrive from the establishment of trust between former spouses during an otherwise-unpleasant process. The ability to be up-front is key to ensuring that the divorce goes as well as possible, and is certainly vital to working together in the future parenting any children of the marriage.

2. Cheating May Sell Magazines, But …

Once a celebrity couple has decided to split, the media often focus on allegations (real or unfounded) that one or both of the parties has had an extra-marital affair. While this kind of scandal may sell magazines at the checkout counter, it’s not the focus of a court’s interest in the divorce proceedings of an average person.

So if an affair is part of the equation in a divorce – and as much as the innocent spouse’s ego and feelings may be bruised because of it – it’s rarely productive to make this a focus, or to ramp up the acrimony in “revenge”. It’s always better to concentrate on trying to have an amicable and co-operative split, and of course on making sure any children are well-provided for.

3. Keep New Partners Out of the Spotlight, for Now

In the case of Brad and Angelina, there is no doubt that one or both of them will be stepping out at a Hollywood event with new dates or romantic partners soon enough. As with allegations of infidelity, the paparazzi love to follow newly-split celebrities to see who they might be dating next, even despite their attempts to keep any new relationships under wraps.

The discreet approach may be equally wise for the average newly-separated person since it’s the best way to make the divorce go as smoothly as possible. No one enjoys having the existence of an Ex’s new partner thrown in their face, and the intervention of a new partner into the litigation process can “stir the pot” and be highly detrimental.

4. Protecting the Kids is Key

Maintaining privacy is a routine concern for the stars. It should likewise be a primary concern for newly-separated and divorcing parents because the best interests of their children are (or should be) paramount to any other goals or issues. Keeping the children insulated from unhealthy parental interactions (such as attempts to undermine or bad-mouth each other), minimizing disruption and other negative experiences, and avoiding putting them in the middle of the parents’ disputes are all important tasks for the parents to focus on.

5. There Might be a Silver Lining

Celebrities seem to move on to new relationships at breakneck speed. Although that particular approach is not always advisable in the long-run, the positive “spin” to take from it is this: The future is full of possibilities and new opportunities. Strange as it may seem, divorce can have some positives.


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About the author

Russell Alexander

Russell Alexander is the Founder & Senior Partner of Russell Alexander Collaborative Family Lawyers.