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How to Handle Family Events When Your Former Spouse Is There

You might not possess the same kind of wealth as Bill and Melinda Gates, but if you’re a divorced parent, you likely have something in common with the Microsoft founder and his wife, who are now divorced after 27 years of marriage. The wedding of the couple’s oldest daughter brought Bill and Melinda back together to celebrate the joyous occasion. Whether you’re in the middle of the divorce process or you terminated your legal relationship years ago, family events such as weddings and graduations might put you back in close quarters with your ex. This could lead to some awkward moments or, even worse, hostile encounters.

Fortunately, the lavish Westchester County wedding of Jennifer Gates and Nayal Nassar seemed to go off without a hitch. If you’re concerned about an upcoming event that your former spouse will also be attending, there are ways to guard against problems, such as:

  • Focus on the reason you’re there — School and family events are very important for the people directly involved and the focus should be on them. Remember that the other attendees are not there to worry about your personal situation.
  • Leave the litigation to your attorney — You could be in the middle of a contentious divorce or might be seeking a modification to custody, child support or spousal maintenance terms. No matter what, a decision cannot be reached in a catering hall or funeral home. Winning an argument isn’t the same as winning in court, so it’s best to let your attorney make your points when they really matter.
  • Maintain your distance if you need to — In many cases, former spouses get along swimmingly and they enjoy spending time with each other. You might not be so lucky. That might require a discreet table switch or a departure before things get out of hand. Don’t worry about minor breaches of etiquette. Everyone at the gathering will prefer a slightly adjusted seating arrangement over an uncomfortable scene.

Unlike other types of legal proceedings, the parties to a divorce often cannot walk away from each other after the case is completed. At Jakubowski, Robertson, Maffei, Goldsmith & Tartaglia, LLP, we offer sound guidance to Nassau and Suffolk County clients who are engaged in legal matters related to requested child support modifications and other issues that arise following the entry of a marriage dissolution order.