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Survival Tips for Divorce and Disney: Part II

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Here are some useful tips for divorce and how it pertains to Disney

On July 29, 2015, I gave you my first three tips fordivorce and Disney. Today I have the last three tips for you, on the same theme.

  1. Are you a hero or a villain?

Disney characters, and similarly fans, can be divided into two camps: heroes and villains. Some adore Snow White, favour Pinocchio or are partial to Simba. Hero fans root for the underdog. They love the “little guy” (or gal) who invariably becomes the star of the story. It is through the hero’s adventures that the story is told, a happy ending delivered, adversity overcome and a tidy moral provided. Hero fans are clean cut. They are do-gooders, hard-workers, practical and persistent people who really do believe good will triumph over evil. Conversely, others prefer Cruella DeVil, Captain Hook or the Queen of Hearts. These fans are those who, at some point in their lives, have wanted to yell “Off with his head!”[1] The Disney villains are perfectly nefarious, completely irreverent, often sarcastic, frequently impertinent, and always impeccably dressed. They say and do things others would never even think of. Fans love the villains, even though they usually come to a gruesome and terrible end. The adults and kids on our trip could be divided along hero and villain lines but, if I want to preserve my friendships, I really shouldn’t name names…

In family law, often one side is portrayed as the hero, the other as the villain. In oral argument and written submissions, inexperienced lawyers will paint their clients as perfect parents, human beings beyond reproach. These lawyers make the mistake of thinking that their clients have to be flawless in order to win the court’s favour and, hence, earn a good result. Such thinking is immature. Most judges are human and, hence, are aware that perfection is unattainable. Claiming to be perfect only makes the court suspicious.   Clients, like lawyers, are probably all a little bit hero and a little bit villain.[2] Everyone has done things they are not proud of and everyone has some explaining to do. Be honest. Face your mistakes head on. Explain them, don’t hide them. And don’t wait for the other side to raise them, which they will. As my colleagues and I say, there is his side, her side and then the truth. It is always best to be the first to put the truth before the court. Warts and all.

  1. Take a day off

Our group was in Orlando for a week. Disney World is big enough and varied enough that we could have spent all seven days at the parks. Instead of doing so, however, we adults opted for a somewhat more relaxed schedule. We agreed all seven days at the parks would be overkill. The children would be exhausted, the adults at wit’s end. We needed to make sure that the Disney vacation was actually that: a vacation. So we took an afternoon here and a day there away from Disney. We relaxed by the pool. We napped. We played and swam, mini-golfed and refueled. Stepping back and taking some time off allowed all of us to better enjoy our time at the parks, and our vacation generally.

Take a day off every so often from your family law case. Although it is hugely important, and will impact your life and that of your children for years to come, your family law case should not be a full time job. Litigation can be all consuming, but it shouldn’t be. Your case will expand into the time that you give it, and that is not necessarily a good thing. Take time to step back. Do something nice for yourself and your kids. Be sure to take time away from thinking about the break up and its financial, emotional and custodial repercussions. Exercise. Eat right. Get lots of rest. My advice probably sounds trite, but I have met many a client who stops eating and sleeping out of worry. Don’t be that client. Get outside of your head and away from your lawyer’s office. It is crucial. Taking this time will provide much needed distance and perspective which, in turn, will help you either solve a difficult problem or come to a challenging compromise. Refuelling physically and emotionally is essential. Family law can drain the client who isn’t careful.

  1. There’s a great big beautiful tomorrow

Walt Disney’s Carousel of Progress now resides in the Magic Kingdom, but it was first created as the feature exhibit for the General Electric pavilion at the 1964 New York World’s Fair. Legend has it that this was Walt Disney’s favourite attraction. It is said that Walt insisted the Carousel never cease operation. Originally cutting edge, the Carousel is now a nostalgic step back to a kinder simpler time. The Carousel audience sits in a ringed theatre revolving around the action. There are six scenes, each depicting and celebrating the technology of a different time period – the 1900s, the 1920s, the 1940s and then the 1960s and onwards. The Carousel’s theme song is an optimistic romp written by the Sherman Brothers. The song’s catchy refrain has stuck in the hearts and minds of we ten Disney travellers. Young and old are often overheard singing:   There’s a great big beautiful tomorrow, shining at the end of every day…

Separating is hard. Divorce is hard. Dividing assets and parsing out who gets what time with the kids is hard. The end of a relationship is significant and often painful. It forces harsh realizations and imposes new realities. Some days you may feel like it is the end of the world. But it isn’t. It is just the end of the world as you presently know it. In other words, it is a new beginning. Things will get better. Your children will adjust. Your wounds will heal. You will figure out how to be on your own and, gasp, maybe even re-partner. So, as corny as it may now seem, on days when things seem bleak and hopeless, remember the immortal words of the Sherman Brothers:

There’s a great big beautiful tomorrow,

Shining at the end of every day,

There’s a great big beautiful tomorrow,

And tomorrow is just a dream away.

[1] Hey, I just realized – all three of those villains all use that very same phrase. Interesting…..

[2] Or, to quote Donny and Marie, a little bit country and a little bit rock and roll.

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