A blog about the special cultural, but little known, aspects of New Orleans.
Wednesday, May 28, 2014
Divorce issues characterize New Orleans
By Lynne Wasserman
I figure that if NolaVie can print a NOLA love story, it might have room for a tale or two about how our favorite city does divorce. As with most other things, we put our own unique spin on this life event. Divorce is never easy, not even in The Big Easy. But, as with most painful events, a little levity can help.
For 35 years, I toiled as a divorce lawyer. I heard tales you would not believe, and you won't get the chance, because lawyer-client communications are confidential. But statements in a public court, or comments overheard in courthouse hallways -- those are fair game. Here are just a few, with, of course, a little embellishment and exaggeration thrown in. (And the names are changed, to protect the broken-hearted.)
Once, a divorcing couple came to court without lawyers. The judge asked them how their settlement talks were going. In his best Irish Channel accent, the husband replied, "We agreed on da house. We agreed on da kids. We even agreed on how much I gotta pay 'er every month. What we cannot agree on, Ya Hon-uh, is how to split up da Saints tickets."
It's true. Saints season tickets are often the most coveted asset in a property division.
Our beloved team comes up often in divorce court. Once, a judge was scolding a father who had been heard to use foul language in the earshot of young children.
"Mr. Beauregard," the judge instructed, "cursing in front of children is unacceptable."
"But Your Honor," plead the man. "The Saints were playing the Falcons."
"Oh," replied the Judge.
And then there's Mardi Gras. The importance of each Carnival tradition has caused judges to concoct some highly Solomonic solutions, not too different from this one: "Mr. LeBlanc and Ms. DelaHoussaye, since you cannot agree, I am ordering custody on alternating holidays. The mother will have the children for Bacchus, Iris, and Hermes. The father will have the children for Endymion, Thoth and Muses. Mardi Gras Day will be split, with everyone meeting up at St. Charles and Ninth, neutral ground side."
Hurricanes create anxiety in adults, but why should the children suffer? The following is only a short stretch from what was actually said in court: "Your Honor, in case of hurricanes, my client wishes to evacuate the children to Baton Rouge. Her ex insists on Houston. Our position on this is that the children should not be forced to suffer the indignity of staying in Houston for what could be days."
Oh, families are special. I overheard this exact statement outside of a courtroom: "We actually had a pretty good marriage until his mama 'n dem got all up in my face."
And we cannot forget about sex, or the lack of it. There was the time a lady was relating that she and her husband no longer had sex. It was a medical problem, she said. "Nope, we ain't did dat in ye-ahs. He CAN'T. He's impudent."
For some folks, there is never enough: "I told him I was going to be like the Picayune. I would only be there three times a week. I guess he decided to cancel his subscription."
But for many couples, it's the little everyday insults that just prove to be too much. Here are some of my favorite NOLA grounds of divorce:
Improper driving: waiting a full two seconds after the light turns green to press on the gas pedal.
Terminal idiocy: leaving the outside lights on during termite season.
Extreme sanctimony: refusing to make your famous bread pudding for your spouse because it's "not healthy."
Confused intemperance: stocking the refrigerator with Purple Haze when he's said a thousand times he prefers Jockamo.
Abandonment: leaving the bar before the final set.
And the ultimate insult, Infidelity: admitting out loud that you don't really hate Houston.