The irony of divorce is that it brings people together, Sarah Jessica Parker tells LLNYC in a recent interview prior to the season finale of her HBO drama “Divorce.” “You actually need the other person to divorce.”
True, true. And perhaps even truer for the show’s middle-class-ish family. But to whom much is given, there is much to be taken away — and perfunctorily burned on the altar of bitter revenge. Let the lawyers handle the dirty work.
Take, for example, divorce lawyer to the 1 percent Randi Karmel, whose clients include many celebrated personalities we cannot name. This matrimonial mortician is all too familiar with the squabbles that precede an amputation of assets.
So, to learn more, we met with Karmel in Manhattan’s Diamond District, where the windows glitter with the facets of 10,000 stones, street hustlers buy rings right off your fingers (“$3,000 to $3 million!”) and mirthful marriages begin…and end.
“One of my favorite cases involved jewelry once owned by a celebrity. And at the deposition I asked about that particular piece of jewelry,, and [my client’s soon-to-be-ex] said, ‘I don’t have it. Don’t know where it went,’” Karmel recalls as we walk down West 47th Street. “So I asked him to unbutton the first three buttons of his shirt, and he was wearing it. My client got a real kick out of it!”
Randi Karmel’s clients include many celebrated
personalities we cannot name.
Karmel, a former Kings County assistant district attorney as well as a former deputy inspector general in the city’s Department of Investigation, says that when you are dealing with high-net-worth divorces, unique situations arise. Valuating celebrity status, the origins of heirlooms, inheritances where money has been commingled or appraising the value of a business can all throw monkey wrenches in the works.
“All of the sudden they say, ‘your business is valued at $10 million.’ But it’s not like a house or a diamond,” Karmel says. “Where do you get the money to pay your spouse?”
She says that ahead of a divorce, some women attempt to stock up on fashion pieces with high resale values, like Birkins and jewels, but it usually doesn’t work. In fact, she says, it is often more painful when they are then asked to return them. And that pain is compounded when the item is an heirloom.
“I’ve had cases where husbands gave their wives diamonds that their grandparents brought back after fleeing from the Holocaust. Very sentimental pieces they’ve worn for 20 years. But following a divorce, that heirloom has to be given back.”
And don’t even get her started about the pampered pooches of Manhattan’s elite. “Pets are considered property. But the trend is to create pet trusts and pet provisions,” Karmel says. On more than one occasion, she has negotiated what amounts to visitation rights for a dog.
So listen up, brave and well-positioned reader on the brink of nuptial bliss. Save yourself some anguish and draw up a prenup. Does it hurt? Can it damage your marriage? Have they dissolved relationships faster than a vat of sulfuric acid? Actually, yes, Karmel says. But, prenups are also a great opportunity to learn about yourself and your betrothed, she suggests.
“I’m just trying to protect people,” she says, “because you aren’t going to be young and beautiful forever.”