Visiting an attorney to get your estate plan done is one New Year's resolution that you should definitely keep. None of us knows whether or when we may find ourselves seriously injured or sick.
You may have seen Nigella Lawson and her likely soon to be ex husband Charles Saatchi in the news recently for two reasons. First, Mr. Saatchi, a wealthy advertising entrepreneur and art collector, was photographed some weeks ago with his hands around his wife’s throat, allegedly choking her. No charges were filed and Mr. Saatchi described the incident as a “playful tiff” (whatever that means in English English), but as the British tabloids make MTV News look like Edward R. Murrow, Mr. Saatchi has, to say the least, been the subject of a large amount of bad press recently.
Where this tale from across the pond became a warranted subject of this blog was the second recent piece of news to come from this pair of English gentry. This alleged choking incident and Ms. Lawson’s refusal to defend her husband from the British paparazzi ultimately led to said husband’s resolve that he wished to end the marriage. As members of a people who pride themselves of their sense and sensibility (had to put a Jane Austen reference in here somewhere), one would expect Mr. Saatchi to call an attorney to talk about his options, retain that attorney, file for divorce in the appropriate jurisdiction, have a third party serve his soon to be ex wife with the divorce papers, and negotiate through his attorney the terms of their ultimate separation. Mr. Saatchi did not do the sensible thing…
Usually the last divorce conversation/fight is not the first. I cannot speak to this fact in regards to the Lawson/Saatchi relationship, but instead of having that last conversation, having his attorney inform his spouse about his intentions, or even (worst I have heard of) messaging her on Facebook, Saatchi called the papers. Indeed Saatchi published an article in the Mail (a popular London newspaper) with the headline “I’m divorcing you Nigella.”
Many of you are likely chuckling right now and/or espousing to yourself “what a (four letter word),” and rightly so. It’s pretty funny, and Charles is probably guilty of being the word you chose. At the same time, I ask that you realize that this is not uncommon.
Charles is being a (insert word not used in polite company. I will use “limey bugger”). Parties to divorce are very frequently limey buggers, and not just to their spouse. Frequently their limeyness flows into their work, their familial relationships, their social circles. Believe it or not, they can be limey even to their best friend in the world at that moment, their attorney. Being limey does not help anyone. It makes you look like a bugger, and people don’t like buggers. Neither do judges. Being a jerk only makes you look jerkish. It burns bridges and limits your options, and like the example illustrated here, there is usually lots of solid evidence produced by the jerkish act(s) that will likely haunt you in the future.
Besides sharing a very entertaining story of possibly the worst decision a Brit has made since trying to tax American tea, I wanted to show that even celebrities, even the 1% who are best known for being art collectors and professional chefs (her father was also Chancellor of the Exchequer) can be absolute jerks to one another. The last takeaway is this. It is never in your interests to be a limey bugger to anyone, even if they have hurt you terribly and likely deserve it. Listen to your attorney, be as civil as you can, show love to your children if you have them, and look to the people that love you. You will likely not come out the other side unscathed, but you will be better off than Charles Saatchi.