A new season of the Real Housewives of Orange County (RHOC) has begun for the 14th year in a row. One could assume the show features a cast of women with wedding rings on their left hands, and if so, they are mistaken. The reality television show documents the lives of six women, to which three are married, two divorced, and one in the middle of divorce proceedings.
Divorce happens to be a massive theme within the show as it makes a huge impact on the lives of those who go through it. Amy Lass is a Family Law attorney in San Diego and a partner at Griffith, Young, & Lass. She is an expert in all things divorce, prenup agreements, child custody, spousal support, and marriage. When Lass is not litigating, she is a wife and mother. Each week she will be providing her insights and expertise on all things RHOC. Grab a drink and please don’t simultaneously drive (a reference you will soon understand, keep reading), and enjoy!
The episode begins with Shannon STORMS Beador—I chose to capitalize her maiden name since this is her season she is beginning as an official divorcee.
“Fun Shannon, BAM!, is back,” Shannon says to the producers in her confessional.
After two years of what she deemed as hell, she has gotten her groove back. We see Shannon and her three daughters walking into a fitness center for a personal training session. The newly divorced housewife is happy, healthy and impressively lost a total of 40 pounds. In prior seasons, viewers see her life fall apart as her marriage comes to an end and as a result, she became unhealthy and gained weight due to stress, anxiety, and depression. The tables have turned and this time she is dancing on them. Her tagline says just that and now I will be watching for Shannon’s table dancing scenes.
“Thank goodness my marriage ended, who would have thought I would say that?” says Shannon.
This is common for my clients to say when they finalize a divorce and gain perspective. I encourage my clients to reach out to a therapist before, during, and after a divorce to provide guidance and advice through darker times.
Not only do we see Shannon feeling happier in general, we also see her talking about her dating life and how fun it is. Shannon was with her former spouse for nearly twenty years and now she is starting over. This is monumental for her to get back out in the dating world. It takes a lot of courage to allow people to see you in such a venerable state, and just as much courage to get back out in the dating world after being married for so long.
I am happy to see my clients gain their confidence again just like Shannon did. Shannon’s smile and spirit has been lifted and you can see she has gained more love for herself. Finding inner peace, acceptance, and love for yourself will translate into all areas of life. In the world of family law, Lass knows this makes a client become a better parent as well. “Fun Shannon” we are here for this second act of yours!
Gina Kirschenheiter is another housewife following in Shannon’s footsteps. Gina joined the cast of RHOC in its 13th season as a married woman. Her storyline featured her and then husband becoming more and more distant throughout the season. There were so many times I wanted to direct message Gina on Instagram and tell her to call me last season. Anyways, that was last season and now this mom of three has moved on and is working on her best co-parenting game.
The soon to be divorcee begins the season in her new house as she gives the tour to her dad via facetime. Gina speaks in the confessionals about her divorce and breaking the news to her children saying they are better for it. Life is looking up for Gina! Oh wait—we spoke too soon.
Remember that reference made about drinking and driving? The not so housewife anymore is in a pending divorce that includes child custody matters. In January of this year, Gina received a DUI after an event she labeled a “mom event” where the wine was flowing.
“My worst defining moment ever,” said Gina as she referred to her DUI wiping away tears from her eyes.
“I’ve made mistakes in Orange County, but I’ll fix them in a New York minute,” says Gina in her tagline. We certainly hope so Gina.
I have been to many mom events and have enjoyed wine. I am sure Gina knows this by now, but she should have called an Uber. A DUI is never a good thing and it could have been much worse. When someone drives under the influence, they risk harming others or themselves. The Uber fare is always worth it. Now Gina is facing the consequences of her actions.
Alcohol related mistakes make for horrible outcomes in custody cases. Those involved in a custody dispute must remember that judges have hundreds, if not thousands of cases at one time. A judge cannot dive into the specifics of your DUI vs. the others, to determine if your DUI was just a mistake, or you have an alcohol problem. Judges tend to err on the side of caution because children are at risk and the impact of driving drunk can be devastating.
We all make mistakes, but while under the microscope of a divorce these mistakes can have a devastating impact on precious time with your children. Gina’s ex made a choice to show compassion and presumably wasn’t concerned about Gina having an issue with alcohol—even if he wasn’t concerned, he could have used the DUI as a weapon against her, so props to him for not doing that.
This was not the case for Shannon in her child custody matters. When Shannon caught wind of Gina’s DUI, she was angry. She did not even make the same mistake Gina made; however, her ex-husband did not even come close to showing compassion. In season 13 we see Gina speaking behind Shannon’s back saying she was “self-medicating” on a girl’s trip when she was drinking straight vodka.
Because of the gossip and filming of the show portraying Shannon to have an alcohol problem, she had to face the music in court. Shannon spent “tens of thousands of dollars” arguing in court over this piece of gossip. Her former spouse wanted to place parameters around her child custody case, which is common in child custody disputes. There are parents who try to place restrictions on the other parent on whether they can even have a glass of wine when they are with their children.
That is all for now, there will be much more to unpack as the rest of the season rolls on. We can always count on the housewives to show us the way, or lack thereof.
I’m a mom, wife, and family law attorney. The order varies by the day (My very own housewife tagline)