Netflix recently released Tim Burton’s, Wednesday, with Christina Ricci herself playing the role of Ms Thornhill and the show exceeding the expectations of many Addams Family fans. Well, when Ricci recently opened up to The Sunday Times about her struggles from her traumatic divorce from her first husband, cinematographer, James Heerdegen – we figured what a timely piece to share in our new series we’d like to call, Family Law in Hollywood.
After nearly seven years of marriage, Ricci and Heerdegen filed for divorce in 2020, both claiming emotional and physical abuse. Ricci was ordered to pay Heerdegen for child and spousal support AND a portion of his legal fees – forcing her to sell some of her belongings to make ends meet. In the interview, Ricci shared, “certain traumas in life go along with financial traumas, extended court situations, custody situations [and] fighting restraining orders,” a reminder that divorce can be costly, even for the rich and famous.
That said, here are 3 things you can do to achieve a smoother and more stress-free divorce:
- Put you emotions aside and make business-like decisions – The end of a marriage (or a relationship) may not be amicable, but it is the start to a new chapter in life. Therefore, leave your feelings aside and when making decisions, focus on what’s in the best interest of your children and what will best build the foundation of your future. That said, agree to be fair. Contrary to belief, a divorce isn’t about “I’m going to take him/her for everything he/she has got.” It’s about knowing your rights and receiving what you’re entitled to. This is where a family law attorney, such as Tony Luzuriaga and Mary Shafizadeh of Empire Family Law, can be of assistance. Our attorneys can guide you over this challenging bridge, explaining to you your rights, what you’re entitled to, and helping you reach an agreement with your ex. In fact, if you choose, we can help you negotiate with your ex and reach a settlement agreement, which ultimately can mean less conflict, more control over your matters’ outcomes, fewer legal fees, and less overall expenses – thus allowing you to move on with your life quicker and start your new chapter sooner. If, however, negotiating a fair settlement isn’t possible, then rest assure, our attorneys can go to trial to effectively, strategically, and efficiently represent you.
- Take this challenging period as an opportunity to organize your documents, finances, and life – We understand this may seem difficult at first, but by getting organized as early as possible, you can reap the benefits in the long run. Accordingly, first determine all your assets and debts, start tracking your income sources and expenses, gather your credit report, bank statements, and tax returns. As you get your financials organized, you may discover hidden assets you weren’t aware of or had forgotten. This is crucial, because if an asset is found to be omitted in the disclosure process, a court may award 100% of that asset to the other spouse. Second, as you may know, California is a community property state. That means, any assets (other than inheritances or gifts) OR debts, acquired during marriage are to be divided 50/50. Accordingly, begin preparing for this next chapter in your life with half of the community assets and/or debt in mind. Third, as Ricci shared, even the rich and famous can experience divorce struggles. Therefore, as you create your new chapter, take some time to understand where you stand financially as an individual, what you’d like to achieve, and what’s important to you. Similarly, consider your proposed expenses, proposed income, and what adjustments need to be made to ease life a bit more. Do you need to cut your expenses? Do you need to go back to work or start a side business/part-time job that works around your children’s schedule? Do you need to downsize? Ricci sold some of her belongings after her divorce, and although she did it to make ends meet and so can you, downsizing has many benefits for your overall wellbeing, including: (1) gaining more clarity in life, (2) feeling happier and more free, (3) realizing what’s ultimately important to you, (4) reducing your expenses, as well as (5) creating a more productive and motivating environment for yourself.
- Build a dependable support system – Even if you’re an introvert, feeling connected and building a support system as you navigate through a divorce or a break-up is strongly encouraged. You can turn to your friends and family who know and understand you, so long as you set boundaries as to what you need from them, thus preventing them from sharing their unwanted opinions – as hearing negative comments about your ex isn’t always helpful. You can turn to an in-person or online community of individuals going through a similar situation as yourself and subsequently empathetic towards you. You can gain comfort and insight, knowing you’re not alone and seeing firsthand those who have survived what you’re going through. You should also acquire professional help, including speaking to a licensed therapist about your divorce struggles and an attorney about your legal situation.