Weddings have moved on a long way and traditions that would have been a given a few years ago have now given way to eccentricities of modern life. It's not even guaranteed that one of your parents would walk you down the aisle – or even that there would be an aisle! But it is still common for your parents to attend your wedding ...
So a headline in November that Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman missed their (adopted) daughter's wedding caught my eye. There's some suggestion that they agreed to stay away to avoid the desired low-key event then turning into a media circus. But there are also the infamous "sources close to the couple" who suggest that the continuing animosity between Tom and Nicole, who divorced many years ago now, was a contributing factor.
When I undertake a divorce and the couple agree to "do it collaboratively" one of the reasons they often give for so doing is that they still want to be able to attend their children's weddings. The said children we are talking about are often only at primary school still, so we're not talking about an imminent invitation. It takes a lot of hard work to adopt that approach, firmly fixing the children above their own needs. It can't be much fun to be out with your ex at a big occasion, but the alternative is even less fun for the kids who have to handle either the animosity or the painful decision of having one (or both as per Cruise/Kidman) parent absent. It's not just the wedding of course; long before that there will be parents evenings, sports days, Nativity plays, graduations… And it's not just the kids either; former friends don't know which of the couple to invite to the party; probably both lose out and friendships are lost.
It is a challenge but a lot of people do it. A lot of people accept the fact that the marriage relationship has come to an end but there will still be a relationship of sorts post-separation; whether it's a limited co-parenting relationship for the children or a recognition that not everything that was good and formed the friendship that blossomed to marriage has to end post-divorce.
If you've got to go through divorce, do it with dignity; do it collaboratively.
Written by Sarah Smith of Berwins Solicitors.