Tuesday, February 22, 2011

When Good Breakups Go Bad

This breakup happened several months ago, but is just heating up now as the two ex-lovers pummel each other in court (and in the media) over custody of their daughter Nahla.

Her side:  Gabriel is a lazy, unemployed mooch who can’t be trusted to care for his daughter.  He’s a racist who’s uncomfortable with the thought of having a “black” daughter.

His side:  Halle is more interested in her career than being a mother to her daughter.

But the breakup started out so well!  Gabriel continued to live in Halle’s house, where he could see Nahla every day.  Post-relationship relations were so friendly, the parents neglected to arrange a formal custody agreement.  A lapse Halle is probably regretting today.

The truth is almost certainly more benign than all the accusations.  Halle’s maternal instinct drives her to seek primary custodianship of her daughter.  And she can’t be thrilled at the prospect of contributing to her ex-boyfriend’s upkeep in the form of child support.  Gabriel prefers that Nahla be cared for by her parents; if Halle’s off making the moolah on a movie, then that leaves him, doesn’t it?  And it’s clear that both parents feel threatened by the prospect of identifying Nahla by the race of their ex.

Basically, Halle is facing the dilemma typically faced by wealthy men who divorce their SAHM wives.  For some, the stay-at-home arrangement made sense when they were married; others resented it all along.  In any case, these hard-working men object to financing the livelihoods of their ex-wives.  Sometimes they seek to remedy the situation by petitioning for sole custody, challenging the traditional bias for children to remain with their mothers (a bias which is being overcome by the growing popularity of 50-50 custody arrangements).

In Halle’s case, there’s the ironic twist that she’s both breadwinner and mother.  For her part, she probably feels doubly entitled to sole custody.  Now that she has a new boyfriend, perhaps she’d like to relegate Gabriel to the lowly status of very attractive sperm donor.  It doesn’t look like Gabriel is going to stand for that.  He will probably continue to lobby for his continued presence in Nahla’s everyday life.

Perhaps Halle can learn from Britney Spears.  Britney chose to bring her ex-husband on tour with her rather than leave her children behind or separate them from their father.  Thus the world witnessed the extraordinary sight of K-Fed the “manny.”  Think about it, Halle and Gabriel!

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