By: Debra Opri – Attorney and Legal Analyst
The latest divorce news surrounds Ashton Kutcher/Demi Moore and her recent ‘response’ filing in the court system based upon ‘reports’ that she was ‘unhappy’ with ‘confidential’ settlement discussions. Can we all look at this a bit differently for a moment?
I recommend the following perception: first, Ashton filed for divorce without, allegedly, sitting down with his wife and seeking a settlement in advance of the filing such that this response would never have been necessary perhaps. Second, Ashton only filed for divorce in December, roughly three months ago, which says that the parties have been working diligently to resolve their differences in an expeditious manner. Third, the average divorce [don’t think Tom Cruise/Katie Holmes – that was unique] goes over a year+ prior to settlement discussions / resolution.
That said, we can now address the Response and why it was/is going to be filed: a strategy call to remind Demi Moore’s soon-to-be ex-husband-once the six-month period is reached here in California-that it would be counterproductive to air the dirty laundry in the public courts, that the divorce now gets expensive with court appearances, and look to have a dragged out resolution on the horizon.
In my cases, I routinely request confidential mediation between the parties for both my celebrity clients and my non celebrity clients. In this time of budget cuts, and longer waits for hearing dates, going to court has no benefit in my opinion, if it can be avoided. But in some instances there is a party that seems to think the ‘threat’ of public hearings would be enough to warrant a quick resolution. Period. [Now you can think of the Tom Cruise/Katie Holmes divorce].
I don’t think Demi Moore wants a ‘public’ airing of her personal finances any more than Ashton Kutcher does, but I do think there are other alternatives at this point. Certainly, in mediation, if the parties are at a stalemate, then why not have the parties mutually agree to a ‘tie breaker’ arrangement. It is common, and it is certainly something that will take both sides’ ‘line in the sand’ positions into consideration. In the end, it would be no different than a judge making a decision after a long trial, and after the parties have spent millions of dollars with experts, evaluators, and numbers, numbers, numbers.
In today’s world of relationships gone bad, and marriages ending at record numbers, neither Demi nor Ashton want to be another statistic. Both can be examples of intelligent people who have chosen to move on in a healthy and expeditious manner.