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How We Came Up With Our NBC30 Divorce Myths . . .

Meghan and Kristen were on NBC30 last month – several times, in fact – to review the [many] myths around divorce.

They chose five.

What went into coming up with those five? How do you prepare for a seven-eight minute TV spot? Especially since it’s LIVE?

Well, Meghan and Kristen prepared by talking to the Freed Marcroft staff and then putting together a sort of running note pad commentary that laid out the myths and bullet points for quick emphasis.

We thought sharing the pre-appearance prep work might be illuminating for anyone involved in or contemplating a family law action. These are in the first person –  we really don’t remember who offered what and where – as you can tell, thoughts were flying around because, wow, LIVE TV.

General Ideas

I think the biggest one sets the tone for all the others and that is: service is harsh and confrontational and sets everything up as an adversarial process. Nasty service stories make great – if not unsubtle – drama/farce as a staple in every movie/TV show about divorce. See Thomas Hayden Church being served Sarah Jessica Parker’s complaint (BTW, why do they get three names? Have they assassinated anyone? Need to know) while coaching his kid’s basketball team in front of apparently every single inhabitant of Croton-on-Hudson. Parker’s attorney has ‘ordered’ the service hit to embarrass him. Because, hey, everyone going through a divorce should be embarrassed.

Also, think Pineapple Express and the – really funny – montage of Seth Rogan serving defendants. Again, people watching can buy it … really … when was the last time someone headed for a lawsuit on TV or in the movies was handed it politely, or ….?

Myth One

Getting served is horrific and humiliating and it starts an adversarial process.

That leads to a hosts of other myths . . . because America has a legal illiteracy problem. Listen to any sports talk radio over the last few months, Sports pages from the Boston Globe and Hartford Courant and more and check out the stories about Colin Kaepernick &. Ed Reid’’s settlement with the NFL (“Hah, they settled, that means they never had a case,” “They were afraid to go to trial cause…”) and Robert Kraft’s arrest (“It was entrapment!”) … nobody knows how it works. The public’s understanding of the process/procedure is low – after all in 30 years of Law & Order, everyone’s in court in front of a full jury after 4 minutes of commercials, instantly if you have the ability to fast forward.

Myth Two

It all happens at once. You get served and boom! everything happens, it’s all tossed at you in a few heartbeats and you live it 24/7 and make decisions every two seconds and so it goes.

HBO’s Divorce was just great for this. (Worst show about divorce, ever, it set family law back to the 1970s). Church’s character has his – ALL of his – assets frozen moments after he’s served. It costs him a business opportunity, checks bounce. Church has the NY State Police stop Jessica on her way to a ski trip with the kids (really, they found her on the Taconic?) because she didn’t have his ‘permission’ to take them. Both these things happen in the show BEFORE THEY HAVE EVER BEEN TO COURT/before service has even been returned. No judge, just two Croton-on-Hudson morons winging it, (used to love that town) because, you know, law. (Okay, I’d still love it if Molly Shannon and Tracy Letts really lived there).

Hard to believe, but a lot of people don’t get the whole there’s a ‘reasonable, sane, regular process and nothing hideous happens without everyone being heard’ process.<

Myth Three

Divorce lawyers can take a case (especially the woman’s) on a contingency basis (or something like it, “Hey, we’re gonna take him for everything, pay me then…”) I know, I know, but it’s out there.

Myth Four

It has to go to court because a judge has to sign off on everything. Court conjures Arnie Becker and Miles from Intolerable Cruelty and … people have to understand that there are alternatives to court from day one and even when the court is involved you might only be in there once for a ten minute sign on the dotted line session.<

There’s not a whole lot of “ISN’T IT TRUE, ISN’T IT TRUE!”/ “I want the truth!” “You can’t handle the truth!” court moments anymore. (Alas)

Myth Five

“Sure Connecticut divorce is no fault, EXCEPT …”  Heard variations of this about a thousand times – “yeah, but, hey man, she cheated, so, like, that changesit, and …” Every time  I go to certain coffee/bagel 6:30-8:30 Monday through Saturday there’s Roger waxing poetic to whoever he’s sitting with about this very issue … and the fact he has to call his attorney to see his kids … and the judge doesn’t like him … and his wife’s lawyer should be disbarred … and on and on because it was all her fault and if only he didn’t live in Connecticut (a feeling no doubt shared by his audience).

There you go … our five myths and the thinking that went into seven live minutes of TV – which you can watch here.

Written by Meghan Freed