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When couples like Brangelina decide to separate their names and their assets, it can be tricky to keep things private and amicable. Cue the attorneys who live and die by high-profile divorces, like Laura Wasser.
Wasser is representing Angelina Jolie in her divorce from Brad Pitt, which made headlines Tuesday morning. She’s no stranger to the process, having repped Jolie in her divorce from Billy Bob Thornton, Johnny Depp in his split from Amber Heard earlier this summer and multiple Kardashians — to name a few.
The Depp-Heard divorce is one of the most recent examples of why celebrities turn to Wasser when they need a tough attorney. Amid abuse allegations, complete with photos, Wasser wasn’t afraid to fight Heard’s request for spousal support. The parties ultimately settled for $7 million, which will go to charity.
She’s also handling the other big divorce announced this summer, representing Drew Barrymore in her split from Will Kopelman. In contrast to the ugly and public Depp-Heard divorce, that breakup has moved forward quietly and mostly out of the spotlight.
In April, Wasser talked with The Hollywood Reporter for the annual Power Lawyers issue about the ever-evolving business of professional uncoupling and how celebrities can minimize collateral damage when they split. In the interview, she noted three key trends that could be relevant in the Jolie-Pitt split.
First, divorces are becoming more kid-centric.
“It’s almost as though everybody that’s now going through the marriage process has some experience with divorce, and they want to do it better than our parents did it,” Wasser says. “I think people are trying very hard to maintain their family even when their family isn’t living under the same roof. Often in Hollywood, your home is your most valuable asset. [Now we’re seeing arrangements in which] the kids stay in the house and the parents rotate out. You can’t do that unless you have a civil relationship.”
Second, private judges are in high demand despite their high cost.
“Our court system is so unbelievably clogged up that I will sit there all day long billing at my hourly rate only to have a judge say ‘Sorry, we don’t have time,'” Wasser says. “A lot of our really good family law judges have now retired. So you can hire a retired judge and he or she will act as your mediator, or you can hire this person as an actual judge. Every document you file in court immediately becomes public, and if you hire a private judge, you can work out the details before you file anything. It keeps it more private, and you have more seasoned judicial officers, as opposed to newbies.”
Third, prenups have more teeth.
“You used to hear about prenups written on cocktail napkins the night before the wedding,” Wasser says. “There was a big change in specificity and strengthening of prenuptial agreements in California. The statutory language regarding what was necessary changed. Now there’s a really easy-to-follow set of rules. I have not had one of my prenuptial agreements — none of those people have come back to get divorced. I do believe those people stay married longer because they have those conversations that are hard ones to have.”
It remains to be seen which, if any, of these trends will be reflected in Wasser’s counsel of Jolie — but it is already apparent their children are a priority for both. Jolie has asked for sole physical custody, and Pitt issued a statement asking for their kids’ privacy to be respected.
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