Celebrity Divorce with Dignity: Jason Momoa and Lisa Bonet

Celebrity divorce concept

America has always been obsessed with celebrity relationships: who’s dating who, who’s getting married, and especially who’s getting divorced. Often, it seems that the more sensational and ugly a celebrity divorce is, the more captivated we are. We don’t really think about the fact that behind the fame and wealth involved, they are real people, and real pain.

One of the latest celebrity divorces to hit the tabloids is that of Jason Momoa and Lisa Bonet. Together since 2005, the actors had two children together before marrying in 2017 and, sadly, announcing their split in January 2022. Recently, there was some speculation that the pair had reunited when Momoa appeared at the premiere of a movie in which Bonet’s daughter (from her first marriage) stars.

It turns out that Jason Momoa simply came to the premiere to support his stepdaughter. In his social media posts about the event, he asked for continued privacy for his family, saying, "We had a wonderful time in NYC. Mahalo [thank you] to the fans and press for being generous and giving us space for the children, it’s hard enough separating in the public eye. We appreciate the continued privacy through these times, aloha, j."

Many well-wishing fans were surprised and disappointed that news of the couple getting back together was just a rumor. The surprise is understandable: we are not used to divorcing people treating each other with respect and kindness. Maybe we should try to get used to it!

Divorcing with Dignity: Could it Become a Trend?

It may seem strange to hear a divorce attorney advocating for dignity in divorce; after all, the uglier the fight gets, the more money divorce attorneys make. But divorce attorneys are people too, and we care about our clients. Most of us went into this field to help people, not to hurt them. Making a little more money simply isn’t worth it if the price is seeing our clients angry and miserable.

That’s all very well, you might think, but HOW do you divorce with dignity, especially when you are angry? Wanting a kinder divorce doesn’t automatically make it so, and you can’t make negative feelings about your spouse just go away by wishing.

Many people would like a more respectful divorce process, but they have a legitimate concern: if they behave kindly and generously toward their spouse, they might be taken advantage of. That’s why people end up with attorneys described as “bulldogs” or “piranhas.” They want to “get” their spouse before their spouse “gets” them.

The problem is that this can lead to escalating warfare. Your attorney lobs one grenade, and your spouse’s attorney sends two back. The attorneys may not take the fight personally, but you and your spouse will probably crawl from the battlefield dazed and bloodied. If you have to raise children together after your divorce, you may struggle to co-parent if a hostile divorce has destroyed any cordiality between you.

It’s difficult to be authentic, kind, and vulnerable with your spouse if you are worried that your words could be used against you in divorce court. But there are no winners when you decide to turn your divorce into a battle, either. Fortunately, there are divorce options that can de-escalate hostilities while protecting what matters to you.

Options for a Civil Divorce

If you could negotiate respectfully and fairly on your own, you might not be divorcing in the first place. But with the right support from your attorneys, and “guardrails” around the process, you can keep your divorce from getting ugly. That doesn’t mean it won’t still be difficult and sometimes painful. But with alternative dispute resolution, you have a framework within which to divorce respectfully and kindly.

“Alternative dispute resolution,” or ADR, is an umbrella term describing methods for resolving disputes without going to court (other than to finalize the resolution). ADR methods used in divorce include Collaborative Divorce and mediation.

These divorce options work a little differently, but the intention for both is to resolve disputed issues without resorting to litigation. This is done by focusing on your interests, rather than your positions. What’s the difference? It’s frequently possible to serve both spouses’ interests in a dispute, but difficult to honor both spouses’ positions. In other words, focusing on interests can be win-win; focusing on positions usually means that someone “wins” and someone “loses.”

Here’s an example. Let’s say that Lee and Chris both want primary physical custody of their child, Sam. “I want primary physical custody” is each parent’s position, and it is legally impossible for both of them to get it. But they and their attorneys can dig a little deeper and identify their interests: why is primary physical custody so important? It might emerge that Sam thrives on routine, and Lee worries that Chris’ more freewheeling parenting style might stress Sam out. Meanwhile, Chris is worried about losing out on important bonding time with Sam.

The bottom line is that both parents are primarily concerned about Sam’s well-being. From that common ground, they can craft solutions. They might agree that Lee will have primary physical custody and that they will try to keep meal, homework, and bedtime routines consistent between households. To ensure that Sam and Chris maintain a strong bond, Lee and Chris might agree that Sam can call Chris nightly to talk about the day, and that Chris will be the parent volunteer for Sam’s school, scouting, and sports teams, in addition to regular having visitation periods that are long enough for Sam to be able to settle in at both homes.

One of the primary advantages of ADR in divorce is that it gives couples the flexibility to come up with creative solutions that work for their unique family. When people feel that their needs are being acknowledged and addressed, they are less likely to feel threatened and to become combative. Knowing that resolution is in their hands, rather than a judge that they have to “win” to their position, also reduces stress and hostility.

The end result is a better divorce for everyone involved, and an increased ability to communicate and co-parent afterward. You may not find yourself attending movie premieres with your ex. But a more dignified divorce process can make it a lot easier to attend all the Little League games, birthday parties, and graduations that lie ahead.

If you are interested in keeping your divorce civil, your attorney needs to be on board. To learn more about divorcing with dignity, contact Brinkley Law Firm LLC to schedule a consultation.