Pictured on the cover, seated in front: Justin Cordonnier and Margo Green. In back, from left: Amanda McNelley, Erin Rathjen, Michelle House-Connaghan, Gina Casalone and Eric Tuncil.

We’ve seen all too often how Hollywood marriages and costly, high-profile divorces go hand-in-hand. Last year, the big names included Mel Gibson, Madonna, Guy Ritchie, and reality TV’s Jon and Kate. And celebrity watchers are already keeping an eye on a number of troubled twosomes who might make their un-coupling official this year (Tiger Woods and Elin Nordegren, anyone)? 

    But are these Tinseltown divorces handled differently from the rest? Not necessarily, especially if there’s a huge amount of assets at stake, says attorney Margo Green, a principal at Green Cordonnier & House, a firm that specializes in divorce and family law. “We have some high net-worth clients who can afford to go to court and litigate more than someone who’s watching every penny,” she says. “But other than the media attention, the mechanics are the same. You may find more prenups with celebrities than with divorces here, but the cases are very similar.” 

    For instance, Green says extramarital affairs are commonplace across the board—not just in the movies—and they’re happening in increasing numbers. “There seems to be a greater acceptance of affairs,” she says. “Open sex is such a way of life in America these days that infidelity is not treated as a horrible thing.” The result, Green says, is that fewer divorces cases are built around marital misconduct. “Affairs can break up a marriage, but they’re usually not the underlying cause,” she says. “Judges are not as shocked as they used to be. In the past, the spouse who was being cheated on may have walked away with 60 percent, but these days, it may be 52 percent, if you’re lucky.”

    Extramarital relationships have also become equal opportunity, Green points out. “When I started practicing, it was always the men having them. Now women are doing it just as much,” she says, adding that the trend signals a loosening of society’s morals. “People are having affairs without regard for the repercussions on their spouse and families.”

    Another trend is the decreasing number of marriages, which has resulted in lower divorce rates in the past 10 years. “Society is more accepting of two unmarried adults living together and having children,” Green observes. “The rate of marriage is down for all age groups, not just among younger couples. Because of that, the divorce rate is down from 50 percent to 40 percent.”

    But, Green adds, she’s seen an influx in the number of ‘first divorce’ clients in early 2010. “During the worst of the recession, there were unhappy spouses who felt they had to stay married due to the unstable economy,” she explains. “But in the beginning of this year, we started seeing clients who just got tired of waiting for the economy to turn around—or just don’t want to live unhappy anymore.”

    In addition to divorce, Green Cordonnier & House provides knowledgeable and thorough representation in all areas of family law, including custody, child support, paternity, grandparent visitation, property division, modification, adoptions, and adult abuse. “Our focus allows us to be on the forefront of new statutes and laws concerning family law,” Green says. “And our whole-team approach means that we all complement each other’s strengths.”

    Green Cordonnier & House recently celebrated its 10-year anniversary. “The three of us—Justin Cordonnier, Michelle House and me—feel that we forged a good partnership and created a firm that offers boutique services,” Green says. “That means we are able to give our clients the attention and support they need.” The firm also has four associates and four paralegals. “It’s an ideal team that prides itself on integrity and its ability to negotiate settlements with other lawyers,” she says. “Our reputation is such that an attorney representing the other spouse knows that he or she can count on our work.” 

Since 1999, Green Cordonnier & House, located at 8000 Maryland Ave. in Clayton, has provided clients with sensitive, knowledgeable information in all areas of divorce and family law. Pictured on the cover, seated in front: Justin Cordonnier and Margo Green. In back, from left: Amanda McNelley, Erin Rathjen, Michelle House-Connaghan, Gina Casalone and Eric Tuncil. The photo was taken in the same conference room featured in the Academy Award-nominated film Up in the Air. For more information, call 726-0455 or visit www.greencordonnierhouse.com. photo by Tom Warwick

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