What can we learn from the Marriage Story?

The Marriage Story is a film about a couple and their marriage break up.

It is available on Netflix and has been nominated for Golden Globes and Academy Awards. It is based around a couple, Charlie (played by Adam Driver) and Nicole (played by Scarlett Johansson) who decide that their marriage is no longer working and look to get divorced. The have one child together, Henry.

Right at the start, the actors Adam Driver and Scarlett Johansson say: “What’s there to fight about? This is going to be easy – we’ll take half each and go our separate ways.” It quickly becomes clear, as in most divorce cases, that it is not as simple as that.

As this in an American film, of course American lawyers and American law feature heavily in this film. And you might think that the couple may have been better off without their solicitors as they appear to increase the animosity between the couple. This presumably, makes for a better film than the couple mediating successfully. Although, America has a different legal system to that of England and Wales so this animosity and the approach of the solicitors may be the norm.

This film highlights the emotional turmoil that is felt not only by Charlie and Nicole, but also by their son Henry. It demonstrates the difficulties that parents face once they have separated and how it can be difficult to co-parent effectively especially for the parent who can only see the child sporadically (in this case Charlie was based in New York and Nicole based in Hollywood). It also shows that the sweet innocence of the child, stating that they do not want to go with the other parent because they are having fun with the parent they are currently with can cause numerous arguments between the parents.

Separating or divorcing can be a difficult time for a child. Depending on their age they may not completely understand what is happening and may become angry or frustrated. The child may even sometimes blame themselves for the breakdown of their parents’ relationship. We advise that separating parents consider looking at the website “voices in the middle” both individually and with their children. This can help parents understand what their child may be feeling during the separation process. When considering divorce or separation, the last thing anyone wants to do is end up in court fighting over with whom the children should live or how the finances should be split.

For me the main reflection from Marriage Story for me is that less drama is preferable when it comes to divorce and children matters. Good, early legal advice from a competent solicitor allows you to set your outcomes at a realistic level and find the right way to come to an amicable agreement. As members of Resolution we focus on trying to reach an agreement without having to enter a Courtroom. Marriage Story may make a great movie, but do not believe everything you see on the silver screen! Let us make your divorce less of a drama.

If you would like further information on the divorce process, please contact our Family Department on 0118 958 9711 or email eleanor.pearson@barrettandco.co.uk. We offer a one-hour confidential fixed fee meeting at our Reading office for £95 including VAT.

Further reading

Divorce applications can now be completed online by legal practitioners

Finances in divorce – when to have a clean break

Divorce Reform: Is this the end of the blame game?

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