From divorce parties and selfies to uncoupling ceremonies – the recently unwed are finding many creative ways to celebrate divorce. While some view these acts or celebrations as a way to put a positive spin on a traumatic experience, Dallas Divorce Attorney Aubrey Connatser encourages divorcing couples to be cautious before snapping a photo or hiring a party planner.
“If you don’t have children, a divorce celebration may have fewer negative consequences. However, divorce parties and selfies can be extremely detrimental when kids are part of the equation, in which case, I strongly advise against it,” Aubrey says.
But what about Shannon and Chris Neuman, the Canadian couple that snapped a selfie after filing for divorce in August? Weren’t they celebrating their commitment to co-parenting?
In her Dallas family law practice, Aubrey finds couples such as the Neumans are the exception, not the rule. As she explains, “I get it. This couple was happy they were sharing a united front for their children, and that’s great, but it’s rarely the case, where everyone is happy after a divorce.”
Before you start planning a celebration of your divorce, consider these five reasons why you should NOT, first:
1. Everyone involved needs time to breathe, heal and move on.
Usually, once the divorce is finalized, that’s when reality really sets in for the ex-spouses and kids, because there is some finality to the process. It’s finally time to move forward.
“Post-divorce, there is a schedule in place for the kids, everyone knows who gets what money, who keeps the house, where the other party is going to live and what that transition is going to look like. Sometimes that predictability and stability can get everyone moving in a better direction,” Aubrey says.
2. Divorce celebrations can lead to negative outcomes.
When you throw a divorce selfie, party or other celebration into the mix, negative consequences often occur. When word (photos, video, emails, etc.) about a divorce selfie or party gets out there:
- That information can really be emotionally damaging to the other party (your children’s other parent).
- Mutual friends might think you’re making light of the situation (which makes you look bad and could damage those relationships).
- Most importantly, the kids may interpret that act as, “Oh, mom’s having a party because she’s divorcing my dad, she must hate my dad.”
While you may not care if you emotionally damage your ex or honestly do hate that person right now, it’s better in the long-term to keep those thoughts and emotions out of the public eye. (Seeing a counselor can be a much healthier option.)
According to Aubrey, “Kids are very aware that they are half mom and half dad. When mom says bad things about dad to them, that’s the same as saying bad things about that half of who they are as a kid. Those thoughts and feelings can be harmful to a child’s self esteem or send a frazzled teenager to a self-destructive or rebellious place.”
3. Divorce is just a step in the process. You still need to co-parent.
When you have children with someone, you are tied to that person forever. Following a divorce, it’s almost always in the best interest of your kids to try to maintain a healthy relationship with your ex.
“It’s never over with the person you’ve had children with, ever. Throwing salt in that wound unnecessarily, with a divorce party or other public act, isn’t going to help that co-parenting relationship, it’s just not. I can’t think of any way that it is beneficial,” Aubrey says.
4. Public celebrations can put future divorce and custody modifications at risk.
Face it, if you publicly celebrate anything – whether it’s a birthday OR a divorce – the odds are pretty high that there will be photo and/or video evidence of that event. That includes the good, the bad and the incriminating.
In any divorce or custody modification case, opposing counsel will gather photos and other evidence posted on social media, captured in a video, etc., that occur after the last order was entered.
As Aubrey explains, “It’s sort of like the Great Wall of China or the Iron Curtain that goes down, where you can’t offer into evidence actions that occurred before the date of the last order. However, after the date of the last order, I advise clients to be aware, don’t post things on Facebook that could negatively impact a future case, watch what your ex is doing and posting and save it.
I would certainly save photos of a divorce party in a file for a later modification in case it comes in handy. A wife getting drunk with her girlfriends could be used against her in a future modification.
And, if the evidence is bad enough, where it reflects poorly on his or her ability to parent, we may even file immediately. For example, if we find evidence the ex-husband had a divorce party and hired prostitutes, he may find himself going back to court for supervised access of his toddler.”
5. Friends may inadvertently reveal damaging information about you.
Why put yourself in a situation where evidence may be created that can be used against you? Not only do we live in a “share happy” society – where everything from the mundane to a celebration ends up on social media – conversations you consider private may be leaked accidentally (and sometimes on purpose).
“If your best girlfriends come to your divorce party, chances are some of them may be dating or married to friends of your ex-husband. Not only could that put your friends in a tough position, they might share the party details with their partner, who then shares them with your ex. Unfortunately, your friends can be a conduit for information, so you need to be careful about what you say or do at a divorce party, happy hour or anywhere else,” Aubrey says.
Ask Your Family Law Attorney to Weigh In
If you are still gung ho to have a divorce party, speak with your divorce attorney first. He or she can advise you of the risks a divorce celebration may pose to your children, personal wellbeing or a future modification.