The Genuine Article: Hollywood’s Portrayal vs. Real-Life Divorce in Florida

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Here is the reality: Your divorce is not going to be like what you see in the movies or TV (and frankly, you really would not want it to be).  Movies and shows exploit all the drama and the emotions like hostility, sadness, and disappointment that comes with a divorce.  However, an actual divorce in Florida is vastly different from Hollywood’s portrayal.

  1. There is not going to be a dramatic courtroom climax. Movies and TV shows usually portray bitter, hateful spouses involved in a highly contentious divorce. Their actions during the divorce process are not only highly questionable, but also sometimes border on the unhinged (hello, War of the Roses??).  In movies and TV shows, each party to the divorce has an aggressive, “bulldog” attorney hurling accusations and engaging in a devasting cross-examination of the other spouse during the trial, until one person is victorious.  In actuality, most divorces are settled out of court through mediation, negotiations, or by the Collaborative divorce process.  If your case is part of the small percentage that goes to trial, a judge will hear and decide your case. The attorneys will no doubt advocate for their clients; however, a judge would not allow unprofessional or continued aggressive behavior by an attorney.  Further, an ethical attorney would not risk their reputation or license to practice law by engaging in such behavior.


  1. There is not going to be one winner. As mentioned above, in Hollywood’s portrayal of divorce, one party emerges as the total victor. Yet, any experienced family law attorney will inform you up front that there are no winners in a family law case. The best outcome is one that sees both parties receiving some benefit and each having their specific goals or interests met. Using the Collaborative process, moving forward in an uncontested manner, or resolving the case through mediation encourages parties to work together in finding these mutually beneficial resolutions. Moreover, resolving divorces in this way is better than the “scorched earth” method because they can be less stressful, less expensive, and less damaging to relationships.


  1. Your divorce will not be resolved instantaneously (or, in 90 minutes or 6 episodes). Hollywood makes it seem as if an entire divorce case can be resolved within a few scenes.  However, in reality, the length of divorce proceedings can be a few months or even years.  The time it takes to reach a complete resolution of real-life divorces in Florida depends on different factors such as what type of model the divorce has taken (Collaborative, uncontested, or contested litigation); the complexity of the issues; the willingness of the parties to cooperate; the court’s schedule; and also, the attorneys the parties have chosen for themselves.


  1. One spouse is not going to be ruined, personally or financially. Hollywood often relishes in the drama by depicting how one spouse is ruined personally when all the embarrassing and unflattering information comes out during the divorce. Although divorce proceedings are normally public record, in reality, sensitive, confidential information can be shielded in some ways in order to protect the privacy of the parties.  Further, when privacy is a top concern, in the Collaborative process, the actual financial information and agreements reached are not filed so that they do not become public record. Hollywood portrayals will also show one spouse becoming destitute while the other spouse walks away with everything after the divorce.  This would not happen in an actual divorce.  In Florida, the distribution of the assets and liabilities is controlled by the concept of equitable distribution. This does not necessarily mean that everything will be split equally between the parties; it simply means that things will be split fairly depending on the circumstances.  There is also a new Florida law regarding alimony that would allow for spousal support to the party with significantly fewer financial resources if other factors are met.


  1. Your children’s best interests are the paramount concern. Typical in most onscreen portrayals of “custody battles,” the issues between the parents overshadow the welfare of the children.  In Florida, the best interests of the children are the primary concern when children are involved.  In fact, the court has the final say on any issues having to do with  There are over 20 statutory factors that are considered when establishing a time-sharing (“custody”) plan.


Hollywood portrayals of divorce are typically overblown exaggerations filled with drama. An actual divorce proceeding in Florida is very different from these onscreen portrayals. An actual divorce proceeding is not a furious, quick battle that is won in the courtroom by the person with the attorney that is the loudest and most aggressive.  In reality, a divorce is more likely a complex, emotional, and methodical process where parties realize the best outcomes for themselves and their children are ones that focus on finding mutually beneficial resolutions and protecting the well-being of everyone involved. If you would like to divorces or other family issues further, please schedule a consultation today.


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