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Should I Stay or Should I Go?

Should I Stay or Should I Go?

The Erika Jayne & Tom Girardi divorce is quite different than the usual run-of-the-mill contentious divorce.  This one really is a Circus, a Horse of a Different Color, with anyone working on this case risking their heads if they put it in the Lion’s Mouth of the legal system.  Where is Honesty, that Elephant in the Room, when you need it?

There is a Bankruptcy, and civil lawsuits preceding the division of assets and debts, whatever may be left to divide after current litigation is over. It’s important to get through bankruptcy first, as it influences a divorce settlement.

Then there is the freezing of assets, including money in personal and business bank accounts, making it extremely problematic to live.  We need access to money on a daily basis in order to eat, pay for lodging, and get anywhere, like our jobs.

This is all so heartbreaking on so many levels, from the victims of personal injury cases who have not ben paid by the awards from Tom Girardi’s law firm, to the lawyers in the firm who haven’t been paid, to Tom’s alleged mental health challenges with alzheimer’s and the Conservatorship he’s now under (we know a little about Conservatorship’s from the current Britney Spear’s case), to Erika’s possible inability to perform and earn a living independent of what Tom was providing prior to the divorce filing, to the evidence of outrageous lifestyle spending through Erika’s role on the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills (RHBH).

A more intriguing Sideshow could not have been planned.

But I want to focus on one point that is important to any marriage when the trust is gone and the relationship has changed. This point fits into the “amicable” theme of my work.  On a recent episode of the RHBH Erika was asked by one of the other housewives, why she didn’t leave Tom several years ago when she saw the relationship change.  It changed, Erika indicated, when Erika started to receive fame through the television show and subsequently to the positive affect the fame had on her music career.  Erika responded, “Where was I going to go?”

The answer is, “Anywhere!”  Anywhere outside of the house. Anywhere that she could afford on the basis of what she was earning with her music, her book sales, her performance in “Chicago” on Broadway, and with role on the RHBH show. Anywhere but in a marriage that was destroying her emotionally and now financially. Anywhere.

My questions is, “What were you hanging onto?” Erika did eventually leave on November 3, 2020 when she hired a moving van to take her belongings, and filed for divorce. Why did it not happen sooner?

That’s a question for everyone to answer in the transition out of their own marriages. Timing is everything, not just in circus acrobatic and juggling acts. But timing is so hard to determine because you may have children to consider in the move to leave, or you may not have a sustainable income to use before the settlement talks begin. Or, you may want your spouse to leave the house so that you and the children can stay. If you have no children to consider, and you have a sustainable income, are you staying because you want to make a parallel move to a comparable living situation that reflects the one you’re leaving? That might be difficult.

Compromise is always part of the divorce process. There’s the law of divorce in each state, and then there’s your state of well-being, self-respect, and financial safety if your marriage is crumbling before you.

When Erika recounted the departure day, November 3, 2020, she stated that she left her 16,000 square foot house behind (now on sale by order of the Bankruptcy court); her Lamborghini (part of the clawback in the Bankruptcy case);  and most of the furniture and maybe the artwork (again, part of the clawbacks with the Bankruptcy assets). She left on November 3rd, 2020 what she could have left several years ago. What we do for money, if that’s why she stayed, is counterproductive to what it takes to be happy, safe, and able to live a balanced life. Money is great until it’s not. We actually can be happy on less than what it takes to own two airplanes (another part of the Bankruptcy case). Waiting too long to leave and file for divorce can destroy everything that was the reason for staying: wealth.

I always say to potential clients who call my office for information on options to file and mediate their divorce, definitely plan financially to establish yourself independent of your spouse before you file so that you don’t negotiate your settlement from a position of huge need and give your power away. But don’t hang on to the marriage because of the wealth that you think staying can provide. Wealth is elusive. Wealth is deceiving. And wealth can imprison you. Know that you can always earn your own money, which allows you to be your own person, and control your life in ways that will enrich you forever.