Reality TV Divorce Provides a Valuable Lesson

Celebrity divorces always pique our curiosity but, under the gossip and scandal, there actually lies a valuable custody lesson in Real Housewives star Bethenny Frankel’s divorce saga. 

Sharing Custody in Divorce

Despite allegations of fraud regarding the trust used to purchase the couple’s NYC condo, a contested alimony provision in their prenup, and a separation that has now lasted longer than their marriage, the couple agreed two (2) years ago that they would share custody of their daughter. 

Taking their daughter out of the fire not only protected her best interests but also undoubtedly saved the couple unimaginable litigation costs. 


South Carolina Family Courts also allow parties to bifurcate their case, which means parents can finalize an agreement regarding child related issues, such as custody and visitation, without forgoing or compromising their individual claims regarding division of assets and debts, alimony, and attorney fees.

It is difficult to put aside the inherent ill feelings in a divorce and acknowledge your former partner really is a good parent, even if he or she parents differently than you.  One of my favorite quotes is from Helen Wheeler, a co-parenting counselor I often associate in highly contested custody and visitation cases. 

Helen told me, “Divorce doesn’t hurt kids.  Conflict hurts kids.” 

Divorce Parenting Plan

This is a message I strive to convey in all my cases, whether I represent a party mad his or her attorney, or am serving as the mediator.  When parents are able to develop their own parenting plan, it is almost always a better fit for their family than it would be if they placed the future of their child(ren) in the hands of a Family Court judge. 

Reaching an agreement regarding custody and visitation as early in a marital separation as Bethenny and her husband did could not have been an easy task, especially in light of the contentious nature of their divorce. Participating in mediation early in a separation is often key.  Once the mud starts flying, the waters become murky and it’s difficult for parties to think of any individual issue in isolation. Suddenly, a purely financial issue becomes one of integrity.  A parent’s good reputation begins to tarnish in the eyes of their spouse, and their sense of responsibility is called into question. 

Parties begin to lose sight of the difference between being a good parent and being a good spouse.  With the help of a good mediator, and child-focused attorneys, it is possible for reasonable parents to take their children out of the fire in a divorce.  In the end, their children, and they themselves will be better off emotionally and financially if they avoid litigating their child-related issues.  

Read the story here: Bethenny Frankel No Longer Has To Pay Spousal Support To Ex Jason Hoppy – uInterview