April 18, 2011
The Non-Married Divorce
It’s the off-season and we miss Don Draper, not just the eye candy but also the charming, seductive bad boy who, when last we saw him, was about to marry his secretary. So we were relieved to see his off-screen self, Jon Hamm, featured smiling in the New York Times (check out the Sunday March 6th Arts Section) with longtime companion/collaborator Jennifer Westfeldt, actress and filmmaker of Kissing Jessica Stein fame. This calls to mind, for us, what it means to intertwine one’s love, money and business, without a legal contract (marriage). Or, put differently, what does it mean to break up when your best friend and lover is the same person as your business partner and all the money belongs to both of you? In most states, there’s no legal standard for what is essentially a divorce. Of course, for you folks in common law states, you’re ahead of the curve. Nonetheless, same sex couples across the land often face the same legal vacuum as the long-time non-married partners.
Just as couples who have the imprimatur of the legal system can reject those standards when they mediate the terms of their own divorce, so too, non-married couples straight and gay, can avail themselves of mediation as a forum in which they can create meaningful and legally binding contracts. In fact, we see that all the time.