Payback is a bitch. Round One goes to former supermodel Christie Brinkley after a New York divorce court granted her Motion for an open courtroom divorce trial. Her soon-to-be-ex husband, Peter Cook, who was desperate for a private divorce, can expect to be publicly humiliated if reports are true that Christie is planning on introducing evidence of his alleged affair with an 18-year-old assistant, as well as his alleged attraction to internet porn and to combing the web for swingers.
It is a great tactical move on Christie’s part. If Cook knows his reputation will be further soiled in the press (he was already slaughtered and humiliated two years ago when news of the split was first made public), he might choose to back down, abandon a trial, and seek a settlement. Or he could be intimidated into modifying his quest for those extra millions if the cost to his personal reputation becomes too high. (He owns an architectural office in the Hamptons and no doubt will need clients to continue hiring him to support his lavish lifestyle.) And finally, for every dagger that Christie throws, and as Cook’s name gets dragged through media mud as he attempts to defend it, he may become too worn down to continue to fight a strong fight.
Cook’s lawyer wasted no time in criticizing Christie as a bad mother for seemingly wanting her children exposed to the couple’s dirty laundry when she blocked Cook’s request for a closed courtroom. But that’s just “lawyer spin” on behalf of his client. Most divorce courtrooms are considered public, where spouses’ friends, neighbors– and in this case the media– can watch the drama unfold, one embarrassing detail at a time. While judges will close off child custody matters to the public, the divorce trial itself, where couples battle over assets and alimony, is a public affair. And in New York, one of the few states still operating under “fault divorce” law, even more intimate secrets are aired, because a couple must prove who was at fault for the break up and why. The Brinkley/Cook divorce is certainly expected to get messy.
So the world will get to watch Christie Brinkley have her day in court… and for poor Peter Cook– every dog must have his day too.
Stacy Schneider, Esq. is the author of He Had It Coming: How to Outsmart Your Husband and Win Your Divorce.