HBO’s Divorce: Episode 7 – From Mollie’s Perspective
By Mollie Caplis
In Episode 7, life goes on for the DuFresnes and certainly Robert is trying to move on with his life. Whether rekindling a relationship with his old college friend, making moves on an uninterested barista, or sleeping with a class parent, Robert is desperately trying to move on from his relationship with Frances. As for Frances, she is struggling with the reality that Robert’s business investments have led to more debt than profit. Apparently, Robert’s real estate investment skills are poor – he bought too many properties, paid too much at the height of the market, and spent too much money on renovations. In short, Robert’s business has no value. This conclusion seems to be shared by the DuFresnes’ mutual friend, Nick, who clearly does not think too highly of Robert’s business acumen. In addition to the meek financial picture for the DuFresnes, Frances is coming to the alarming realization that she is the primary wage earner of the family and her tough attorney, Max Brodkin, may not be competent to handle her case.
As a family lawyer, I find it interesting to see the parallel communications that occur between spouses during a divorce and those of their attorneys. For example, in his confusion and pain, Robert immediately reports to Frances that he had sex with another woman. From a legal standpoint, Robert admitted to Frances that he committed adultery. While it is true that the parties may no longer be living together, they remain married until a court issues a divorce decree. So, even during the parties’ separation, if Robert engages in sexual relations with a third party, he is committing adultery. Now, the impact of post-separation adultery on the issues of a monetary award, alimony, and even custody are subject to debate, it is certainly an admission that may lead to further discovery in the divorce case.
Another observation I made related to the four-way meeting that occurred with Robert, Frances, and their counsel. During that meeting, the parties discussed Frances’ failure to produce responses to Robert’s discovery requests. As a family law attorney, I often consider whether a four-way meeting is appropriate in a particular case. One has to consider the dynamics, both between the parties, themselves, and between the attorneys, but in the right situation, these types of meetings can be helpful in identifying issues and exploring resolutions, even if on a temporary basis. As a litigated case can take longer to achieve a resolution than some litigants may like, it can sometimes be worth the effort of getting everyone together in a room to see whether any agreements can be hashed out.
While the DuFresnes’ meeting was focused on discovery issues, Frances may be more willing to come to the table, so to speak, and work toward a settlement now that she is attuned to the fact that there may be little to no value in the parties’ marital property. Robert’s poor business decisions, coupled with Frances’ recent venture of opening a new art gallery, have put the DuFresnes’ financial security at great risk. Hopefully, the parties will prioritize the importance of financial solvency for the sake of the kids. I have to give credit to Mr. Brodkin for his (albeit brief) stream of lucid and sound advice. I often say that the most important, and sometimes most difficult, part of being an attorney is managing a client’s expectations. Indeed, Mr. Brodkin delivered some tough news to Frances, but it should hopefully shape how Frances approaches the divorce moving forward.
Episode 07: Weekend Plans
Original Air Date: November 20, 2016
– Mollie G. Caplis is an attorney at Wright, Constable & Skeen, LLP. Her practice focuses on family law issues, which include separation and divorce, custody (including third party custody disputes involving grandparents), child support, alimony, prenuptial and postnuptial agreements, as well as domestic violence and adoptions. Ms. Caplis has also been collaboratively trained to handle family law disputes. She is a frequent speaker on domestic relations issues facing families in transition. Read more >>