Friday, July 11, 2008

Christie Brinkley Divorce - Winner Takes All?

The Christie Brinkley divorce case has just been settled, and Christie will walk away with sole custody of the children and all but $2 million in cash, from assets estimated to be worth around $60 million, including 18 properties in the Hamptons, all of which she will keep. For more see the latest stories from People Magazine, and The New York Post.

Looks like Christie won big, after choosing to insist on a public trial. But as Dahlia Lithwick said at last week("Le Trainwreck-The Christie Brinkley divorce is a lesson in how not to cure a broken heart" July 2, 2008,, her win may have come at a big price. As Lithwick put it:

Brinkley is about to become another victim of the fiction that you can use the tabloids more efficiently than they can use you. Won't happen. Brinkley, Cook, and their two kids will get spit out the other end of this trial, and the only real winners will be the chesty adulteresses—each of whom will have her own reality show/recording contract/clothing label by the end of the summer. I have watched enough nasty custody battles to know that if you really want your children to know the unfiltered truth, you sit down with them (when they are 18 or 21) and tell it to them. You don't run it through the double noise machine of a four-week custody trial and the 24-hour tabloid press. Whatever it is about divorce that sets the parties to behaving like children..., it would be good of them to get out of the way of the real children—whose best interests are meant to be the polestar of any custody fight. If raising children in the media spotlight isn't its own form of child abuse, subjecting them to four weeks of Daddy's dirty laundry surely is. If you can name me one celebrity who won her celebrity divorce, I'll name you a kid who lost one.

I'm not sure I completely buy her argument, but it's got some merit. I do think it is an open question how much kids really need to be sheltered from their parents' mistakes. And especially when they have been "raised in the media spotlight" how successful can we be in sheltering them? It may be that these children already knew most, if not all, of what was going on, and no further damage was done by the public airing of dad's dirty laundry. But there are those who would be in a position to know what was in the best interests of those children, including the lawyer for the children. Lithwick's best point is that the lawyer for the children wanted to close the trial, yet Christie insisted on going forward with her public trial.

For information about Massachusetts divorce and family law, see the divorce and family law page of my law firm website.


....After an intense, all-night negotiation at a Long Island hotel, the pair agreed that she would get full custody of their two children, final parental decision-making power and ownership of the large number of properties they had amassed during their 10-year marriage.

In the end, all Cook ended up with was the cash - most of which will go to pay his legal expenses, sources said.

Brinkley agreed to pay him a flat amount of $2.1 million - a drop in the bucket when compared to her fortune, which a source close to her estimated to be around $60 million.

"It's to me a very bittersweet moment because it really is the death of a marriage. It's also a new start for all of us," Brinkley said after the settlement was announced in Suffolk County Court in Central Islip. "I'm very pleased with the results today. I was here fighting for custody."

Following five bruising days in court, the two sides holed up at a Marriott in Islandia until the wee hours of the morning hammering out the final details of the settlement. They reached an agreement at 6:15 a.m.

A little more than three hours later, the 54-year-old stunner and her 49-year-old architect husband appeared in court to before Judge Mark Cohen to announce a deal.


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