Divorce parties are a thing around the world. You can read about them almost anywhere. Parents Magazine published an article in February about them. You can find thousands of Pinterest boards offering party planning ideas. In 2017, The Guardian shared a story about how planning a divorce party for her best friend turned her into full-time divorce party planner. In 2018, Glamour Magazine published an article about divorce parties, sharing their Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram hashtags and revealing shocking party price tags of up to $20,000. For a good laugh, you can even visit Buzzfeed to see 24 Hilarious Divorce Cakes That Are Even Better Than Wedding Cakes.
As a family law attorney, I’ve had several clients host divorce parties. In fact, a client whose divorce was finalized this month is planning one as I type this. In all of the cases I’ve experienced, divorce parties were not about celebrating divorce itself. Divorce, even in its most evolved iterations, is typically painful and disappointing on some level...certainly not party-prompting. Rather, the divorce parties I’ve witnessed are always about reconnecting with friends essential to moving life forward. They are also about providing closure to a painful but positive milestone in life. Maybe these parties are misnamed entirely. Phoenix parties? Lotus luaus? Gloria Gaynor galas?
If you’re considering a divorce party of your own, or hosting one for a friend or family member, I have some practical suggestions to consider (I know - buzz kill family law attorney strikes again!). The majority of my clients are in high-conflict divorce situations...so I’m always sensitive to minimizing antagonism. In high-conflict situations, even the rumor of a ‘divorce party’ would prompt retaliation, venom, confrontation, or harassment. Outside of a high-conflict situation, in the world of relatively well-adjusted adults, news of a divorce party still has the potential to hurt feelings, cause discomfort, and burn bridges unnecessarily. In the spirit of moving forward positively...and doing no collateral harm...here are 5 divorce party recommendations:
- Keep it quiet. Invite guests specifically and privately...never through open invitations or announcements on social media. Also, know your audience. Despite your positive intentions for this party, some people will find it in poor taste; skip sending those invites.
- Speaking of - keep it off of your social media accounts; and ask all of your guests to do the same. The party’s about reconnecting with friends, so put down the phone and connect. Remember, social media posts extend far beyond your guests, and your control, quickly. While we’re on the topic, re-check your privacy settings. Make sure you have complete control of when things are posted connected to you (tags, timelines, etc.) as you move forward into your next chapter. Also, reconsider who can view your accounts through the lens of your new life.
- If you have them, do not invite your children. For what I hope are obvious reasons, this is an event to enjoy while your children have age-appropriate fun with a babysitter, other parent, or grandparent.
- Your invitation list should only contain people you want to have as a support system as you move into the next chapter of your life. Often in divorce, friends and family form alliances to either one spouse or the other. Be honest with yourself about who your people will truly be, and build your invitation list from that place of awareness.
- If you’re in Arizona, wait at least 30 days after your divorce decree has been entered to commence divorce party planning. In Arizona, you are not free-and-clear when you walk down those courthouse steps. Either party still has up to 30 days to file a notice of appeal after a judge has entered his or her ruling. This would be a huge divorce party bummer!
Whether you’re a fan or not, divorce parties are a widespread reality around the world. Here’s to hoping that are supportive and future-focused celebrations that affirm life, strengthen friendships, and bring healthy closure to a complicated milestone!
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