A New Way To Divorce: Conscious Uncoupling

La Spiga 2011-03-22In the wake of actress and sometime singer, Gwyneth Paltrow, and rock musician Chris Martin’s not unexpected separation, a new way to divorce has emerged.

Referred to by Ms. Paltrow as “conscious uncoupling”, the phrase prompted much hilarity and ridicule, especially by Twitterers and the entertainment media.

Salon magazine suggested her method of divorce was another of her “clueless air-headed” ideas, calling it a “woo-woo Eastern-ish” philosophy, in keeping with most of what is endorsed by Gwyneth on her website “Goop”.

But now that I have stifled my giggles, what on earth is Ms. Paltrow talking about and why, as a divorce lawyer, have I never heard of it before? I know about collaborative divorce, sharia divorce, no-fault divorce and uncontested divorce and I know that common-law marriages never end in divorce, they just end.

The brain-child of Katherine Woodward Thomas, a psychotherapist licensed in California, she offers her course, “The Art of Conscious Completion” as an online seminar, at no charge. Her method has three goals: to release the trauma of a breakup, to reclaim your power and to reinvent your life”.

Thomas’s philosophy of marriage is that it is not “the tie that binds” and in 21st century living where ones’ longevity has far eclipsed earlier centuries, it is foolish to think that people will only have one lifetime partner. She says:

“I’m a fan of marriage but recognize that most people in their lives will have two to three longtime relationships–which means one to two breakups…”

Ms. Paltrow’s celebrity endorsement of Thomas’s teachings is apparently a big surprise to her, as she admits she has never met the Paltrow-Martin clan, but who can blame her if she capitalizes on the publicity?

But not everyone is mocking Paltrow’s message. Many others believe that, despite the new-age language, Paltrow and Martin are taking control of the process and modeling a civilized way to terminate their marriage, but not their friendship and shared parental roles. In fact, they are reportedly vacationing together now.

As for me, it is naïve to think that utilizing the psycho-babble of a catchphrase like “conscious uncoupling” can eliminate the pain of rejection, the loss of a dream, and the anguish of divorce’s most innocent victims, namely, children.

Lawdiva aka Georgialee Lang

Could It Happen in Your Family?

DSC00507 (2)Tomorrow at 5 pm I’ll be doing an interview with Jill Egizii who is the host of her own show on blogtalkradio.com out of Springfield Illinois. Jill is a local politician and advocate for children with a special interest in parental alienation.

She’ll be discussing a story out of California involving pop radio icon Casey Kasem, now 81-years-old, who ruled the airwaves for decades as a music historian and deejay, best known for the popular show “American Top 40″ and its multiple spin-offs.

Mr. Kasem retired from radio and his impressive voice-over career in 2009 once he became debilitated by Parkinson’s disease. Recently, however, he has been back in the media spotlight as a result of a situation that is sadly, not uncommon.

Mr. Kasem’s three adult children, Mike, Julie and Kerrie, from his 7-year marriage to his first wife, Linda Meyers, have been refused contact with their father by his second wife, albeit of 33 years, whose relationship with his children was sour from the get-go in 1980.

Media reports indicate the children were very close to their father, who is of Lebanese heritage, and had regular contact with him until he became immobilized due to his illness and also lost his ability to speak.

Daughter Julie brought a conservatorship application in an attempt to become involved in his care, however, she dropped the court case after negotiating visiting time with her father’s wife, Jean Kasem.

The children’s desperate campaign to see their father has included “picketing” in front of the home he shares with Mrs. Kasem, all in an effort to gain access to him. But it is not only his children who are barred, but also close friends and long-time business associates, who participated in the protest outside his Holmby Hills estate in Los Angeles.

In December of last year, Mrs. Kasem consented to the children seeing their dad for twenty-minutes before being escorted out by a paid “bouncer”.

As a result of the profile of this family, one California legislator is proposing new law to protect disabled, elderly parents from “forced” estrangement, such as in this case.

Sadly, with the multiplicity of divorce and remarriage, there will be more cases like this and more elderly victims.

Kerrie Kasem will also be featured in this interview.

Lawdiva aka Georgialee Lang

Train Wreck Courtney Love Back in Court To Defend Against Libellous Tweet

GAL & PAL #2jpgAh yes, Courtney Love, a young woman with so much promise. A talented musician and actress with Grammy nominations and a Golden Globe nomination for her role in the movie “The People v. Larry Flynt”, hampered by psychological ills and sporadic drug addiction.

These days media reports focus on her bad behavior, not her artistic endeavors. She is in the spotlight this week as she attends court in California defending a law suit brought against her by her former lawyer, Rhonda Holmes. She retained Ms. Holmes several years ago to assist her in litigation involving the estate of her former husband, Kurt Cobain, of the Seattle band Nirvana. He is better known today for his tragic suicide rather than his musical legacy.

Ms. Love, apparently unhappy with lawyer Holmes, tweeted that the lawyer had been “bought off”, a serious charge against a professional whose livelihood depends upon her reputation.

This is not the first time Ms. Love has spewed ignorant remarks over the internet. In 2009 she settled another law suit brought against her by fashion designer, Dawn Simorangkir. The designer created some couture designs for Ms. Love, and then found herself on the receiving end of allegations that she was a thief and had a criminal record, again, all courtesy of Twitter.

Ms. Love wisely settled the law suit paying Ms. Simorangkir $430,000.

This week’s case is the first time a court in North America will scrutinize communication by Twitter. Witnesses expected to testify include Ms. Love, a few of her employees, and experts in language who are well-versed in the Twitter medium.

Lawdiva aka Georgialee Lang

Round Up of 2013 Celebrity Divorces- Part 2

DSC01152_2 (2)_2Hollywood’s gossip editors had plenty to write about this year as they followed the ups and downs of the stars’ relationships, while L.A. divorce lawyers stayed as busy as ever.

1. Clint Eastwood and Dina Ruiz

Clint started his spectacular Hollywood career as the star of several Italian produced “spaghetti westerns” and later morphed into Dirty Harry, before launching his third act as an Oscar-winning director and producer.

While his professional life seemed to be one of repeated success, his personal life has been complicated, to say the least. Clint has seven children from five women, two of whom he married. Unfortunately Mr. Eastwood’s current marriage to former LA TV anchor, Dina Ruiz, 35 years his junior, has come to its conclusion, after 14 years.

They separated earlier in 2013 and Ms. Ruiz filed for divorce, only to abandon the proceedings and attempt to reconcile. But as is typical in marriage breakdown, the reconciliation failed.

Ms. Ruiz is seeking custody of their 16-year-old daughter and spousal support. Clint has already announced his unwillingness to pay Dina support but I suspect that absent a solid prenuptial agreement, California law will ensure she receives support and a large share of his assets.

Apparently Clint and Dina have each moved on to new relationships. In a curious twist, Dina has been linked with old friend and University of Hawaii basketball coach Scott Fisher, while Clint was recently seen with Mr. Fisher’s ex-wife.

2. Ashley Judd and Dario Franchitti

Actress and political activist Ashley Judd married acclaimed British Indy race car driver in 2001. Raised in a show business family, Ashley’s mother Naomi Judd, and step-sister Winona, admitted on Oprah that their family life had been dysfunctional and detrimental to Ashley as she grew up.

She moved to Los Angeles from Kentucky, studied acting, and worked as a waitress at L.A.’s famed Ivy Restaurant, before catching a break that landed her on the silver screen and television.

The couple had no children. Ashley once said that it would be irresponsible to bring children into a world where so many impoverished children needed a home.

Several years ago she attended Harvard University and received a Masters Degree in Public Administration. She was also rumoured to be interested in running for the US Senate, but so far has not thrown her hat into the ring

They separated in January 2013. On 6 October 2013, Dario was involved in a serious crash at the Grand Prix of Houston, when his car flew into catch-fencing after contact with another racer’s car. He suffered two fractured vertebrae, a broken ankle and a concussion in the accident. A month later, on 14 November 2013, Franchitti announced his immediate retirement from motor racing.

He retired with 31 victories from 265 starts in American open-wheel racing, a record which put him in a tie for eighth place on the all-time wins list, with Paul Tracy and Sébastien Bourdais.

Ashley flew to his side after the accident. Who knows, maybe they will reconcile yet?

Lawdiva aka Georgialee Lang

Roundup of 2013 Celebrity Divorces- Part 1

GEO_edited-1Once again Hollywood had more than its fair share of divorce this year. In fact, if you count the breakups of those that were just living together, you could call it a banner year.

Here’s Part 1 of the list of the most recognizable celebs:

1. Nigella Lawson and Charles Saatchi

The British tabloids exploded when a photo of Nigella and Charles was released: they were dining in a posh London restaurant, he had his hands around her neck and she had a desperate look on her face. Their divorce after ten years of marriage moved quickly, but the aftermath has been more than ugly.

The latest episode saw Nigella in court testifying at the criminal prosecution of her two assistants who were charged with fraud. The allegations included unauthorized spending on Lawson/Saatchi credit cards and misuse of household funds. Nigella underwent a vicious cross-examination by defence lawyers who forced her to admit her cocaine/marijuana problem and her extravagant spending.

Can this television chef recover her once-stellar reputation? With her phalanx of highly paid public relations people she likely will. As for Saatchi, he will take his millions and move on to his next marriage.

PS The assistants were acquitted this week after 90 minutes of jury deliberation.

2. The Kardashians and the Jenners

You couldn’t make this stuff up. The reality family was immersed in divorce in 2013. Of course, beauty Kim Kardashian was finally granted her divorce after her 72 day marriage to Kris Humphries. Not a moment too soon as she gave birth to Kanye West’s baby, North West, and the pair got engaged at a gala party in a large sports stadium.

Meanwhile her mom, Kris Jenner and her step-father, Bruce Jenner finally admitted their marriage was on the rocks. Apparently he had been living in their Malibu home for some time. For Bruce it must be sweet release after playing a ridiculed spouse weekly on television.

But they did not go quietly into that dark night. No, rumours abounded that Bruce was contemplating a sex-change operation and frankly, recent photos of him look decidedly more feminine than when he was an American Olympic hero. While Mrs. Jenner had her facelift live on TV, Bruce’s plastic surgery was more discrete, but he did look like an old woman, thanks to dreadful cosmetic surgery.

Finally, Khloe Kardashian and Lamar Odom’s marriage also collapsed in 2013. It’s been a tough year for Khloe as her short-lived gig on “The X Factor” also came to a screeching halt.

Lamar Odom suffers from the same problem as many professional athletes: too much of everything including celebrity worship from his basketball fans, and an excess of drugs, booze, and the party life.

The only good news for the Kardashian/Jenner family is that their reality show has been renewed and they have plenty of salacious story lines to explore in 2014.

Lawdiva aka Georgialee Lang

A Lawyer’s Merry Christmas and Happy New Year Wishes

BarristerMERRY CHRISTMAS DISCLAIMER

Please accept without obligation, express or implied, these best wishes for an

environmentally safe, socially responsible, low stress, non addictive, and gender

neutral celebration of the winter solstice holiday as practiced within the most

enjoyable traditions of the religious persuasion of your choice (but with respect for

the religious or secular persuasions and/or traditions of others, or for their choice

not to practice religious or secular traditions at all); and further for a fiscally

successful, personally fulfilling, and medically uncomplicated onset of the

generally accepted calendar year (including, but not limited to, the Christian

calendar, but not without due respect for the calendars of choice of other

cultures). The preceding wishes are extended without regard to the race, creed,

colour, age, physical ability, religious faith, choice of computer platform, or

sexual preference of the wishee(s).
(Author Unknown)

Lawdiva aka Georgialee Lang

We Don’t Talk Anymore…

DSC00567 - Version 2We’ve all seen that grey haired couple in a posh restaurant who order their meal and never speak another word to each other. Or perhaps you’ve seen the couple who each have a newspaper holding their rapt attention that completely obscures the face of their dining mate. You knew it couldn’t be too long until some social scientist on a government grant would study and report on this interesting phenomena.

A British study found that pre-marriage, romantic couples will speak to one another for 50 minutes of an hour.

But it all goes down hill after that.

Immediately after marriage, conversation drops to 40 minutes per hour; after 20 years of marriage it’s only 21 minutes of the hour and after 30 years it slumps to 16 minutes.

If your marriage lasts 50 years, it is estimated that you will converse for 3 minutes of an hour. Can it be that there is nothing left to say after 50 years or is it that neither spouse can actually hear what the other is saying?

Lawdiva aka Georgialee Lang

Top Five Lawyer Movies

GAL & PAL #2jpgPeople love movies with suspenseful courtroom scenes where the accused is suddenly exonerated by a surprise witness. Doesn’t happen much in real life, but it reminds me that Hollywood used to make great legal movies Here’s my TOP FIVE list:

1. My Cousin Vinny (1992)

When two New Jersey Italian-Americans are charged with murder in Alabama, they need to find a lawyer, but the only lawyer they know is their cousin Vinny, who failed his bar exam six times. In this laugh-a minute comedy Vinny is played by Joe Peschi, while Marisa Tomei, plays his bubble-headed fiancee. Tomei received an Oscar for her role.

2. Witness for the Prosecution (1957)

This Agatha Christie play was turned into a movie starring Marlene Dietrich. It is a terrific movie about a man falsely accused of murder. I have a soft spot in my heart for this film since several years ago, I played Marlene Dietrich in an Arts Club production at the Stanley Theatre in Vancouver, in several scenes where she disguises herself to dupe a lawyer. Many Oscar nominations for this movie.

3. Judgment at Nuremberg (1961)

This film portrays the real-life trial of four judges appointed by Hitler who were charged with crimes against humanity after World War II and tried at the Nuremberg Court. Nominated for many Oscars, and the recipient of three, it was one of the first Holocaust movies. It starred Humphrey Bogart, Richard Widmark, Judy Garland, Marlene Dietrich and Montgomery Cliff. A new version starring Alex Baldwin was made for TV in 2000. It is also an excellent flick.

4. And Justice For All (1979)

Another riveting courtroom drama, this one starring Al Pacino shouting indignantly : “You’re out-of-order! You’re out-of-order. This whole courtroom is out-of-order! They’re out-of-order!” The story begins with Al Pacino’s character, a brash idealistic lawyer, in jail for contempt of court after he punches Judge Fleming during a heated criminal trial. The story is complex but the Judge Fleming thread is picked up again when Fleming is charged with rape and wants Al Pacino to defend him. The two loathe each other and therein lies the compelling drama.

5. A Few Good Men (1992)

In a Hollywood “tour de force” Jack Nicholson, Demi Moore and Tom Cruise star in this movie about a military tribunal convened to judge two Marines accused of murdering a fellow Marine. Tom Cruise plays the role of a young lawyer who has never been in a courtroom. The tension is palpable as Cruise cross-examines defence witness Col. Jessop played by Jack Nicholson. Who can forget Cruise’s taunt to Jessop “I want the truth!” and the shocking retort “You can’t handle the truth!” A stunning movie.

There are more to add to this list, but I can’t think of any movie made this decade that compares with my TOP FIVE. I suggest you run to your video store if you have missed any of these stellar films. More to come from me, but what about you? What are your favorites?

Psychic Cons Woman Looking for Love

GEO CASUALThis story should be filed under “Gullible Victims”. Klarrisa Castro from California consulted psychic Jennifer Williams, who offered her services under the business name of “Psychic Readings By Yana”.

Ms. Williams charged her client $500 for a reading where she gave her both bad news and good news. The bad news was that Ms. Castro was under a love curse, the good news was that Yana could fix it.

Over a period of two years Ms. Castro spent $11,000 on her sessions with Yana and purchases made under Yana’s direction.

She was told to purchase special candles and write love letters and place them in flowered envelopes under her bed. She was also advised to buy gift cards for Yana so that Yana could buy gifts that “represented Ms. Castro’s love for her boyfriend”.

The final step in freeing herself from the curse was to give Yana over $5000 so that she could commission a painting which she promised would lift the curse.

No surprise that nothing worked and Ms. Castro never received the painting. However, Ms. Castro recently filed a lawsuit against Jennifer Williams, aka Yana, for fraud and both intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress.

Yes, Ms. Castro sounds incredibly naïve, but the worst part is that charlatans like Jennifer Williams rip-off vulnerable people like Klarrisa Castro every day.

There is a good chance Ms. Castro will win her lawsuit, but the bad news is that her chances of getting any money out of Yana are remote.

Lawdiva aka Georgialee Lang

Donald Trump “Trumps” Beauty Queen in Lawsuit

GEO#1Miss Pennsylvania may be beautiful on the outside, but her anger after failing to win the title of Miss U.S.A. in 2012 showed that her beauty was only skin-deep.

Sheena Monnin, from Cranberry Township in Pennsylvania, competed seven times before winning her state title and the opportunity to compete in Donald Trump’s Miss USA pageant.

But apparently it was not what she expected. According to Ms. Monnin, during the pageant another contestant advised her that she had seen a written list of the top five winners before the judges made their announcement the following day.

Relying on this information, Miss Pennsylvania publicly accused Mr. Trump of rigging the competition as she renounced her state title, declaring that the contest was “fraudulent, lacking in morals, inconsistent and in many ways trashy.”

Unfortunately for Ms. Monnin, the other contestant denied the statement attributed to her and Mr. Trump sued for defamation.

An arbitrator found in favour of Trump in December 2012 and awarded him the sum of $5 million dollars. Ms. Monnin appealed and yesterday the Court dismissed Ms. Monnin’s appeal and confirmed that she was on the hook for the payment awarded by the arbitrator.

It was revealed during the arbitration proceedings that Ms. Monnin was also unhappy about Donald Trump’s decision to allow a transgendered competitor in the race for Miss Universe, namely, Canada’s Jenna Talackova.

Mr. Trump’s lawyer advised the media that he intends to take every step required to collect the money from the disappointed beauty queen, while she has stated that the payment will financially devastate her.

Despite her loss Ms. Monnin said:

“I was hopeful for a different outcome, but I am pleased that the true nature of the Miss USA judging procedure has been exposed by the testimony of the Miss Universe Organization (MUO) and Ernst & Young during the arbitration proceedings—testimony that reveals that the MUO does select the top 15 contestants irrespective of the preliminary judges’ scores”.

The moral of the story? Be very careful what you say, particularly if your target is a billionaire with a huge ego.

Lawdiva aka Georgialee Lang