Queen of divorce: Angelina Jolie hires expert in separating Hollywood royalty

With clients including Kim Kardashian and Johnny Depp, disso queen Laura Wasser knows how to protect the psyches, secrets and lucks of celebrities

Laura Wassers office, perched high over Los Angeles, has a gold hand grenade for a coffee-table centerpiece. Clients sit in one of two green leather chairs facing her desk, a box of tissues nearby. On the wall hangs a framed canvas publish with two terms: The End.

Apposite, because clients come here to end their matrimonies, but for Wasser each request is truly a beginning, a springboard into a process in which she must protect the psyches, secrets, reputations and lucks of famous person in the lottery known as divorce while the media turn the whole thing into a carnival.

Wasser, 47, a partner at the law firm Wasser, Cooperman& Mandles, has proved so skilled at video games that she is known as Hollywoods disso queen, for dissolving of wedding. Her clients are a roll-call of amusement royalty: Johnny Depp, Kim Kardashian, Britney Spears, Ashton Kutcher, Heidi Klum, Stevie Wonder.

Those divorce cases were celebrity squalls compared with the cyclone in whose eye Wasser now receives herself, as the official splitter of Brangelina, representing Angelina Jolie in her divorce from Brad Pitt. An ostensibly private affair that is already playing out in a vortex of Google-powered rumor, every detail, real or imagined, devoured in a blink.

For high-profile suits, Laura tries to keep clients out of the media spotlight. Which I agree is the better style to go, especially when there are children involved, said Stacy Phillips, another high-profile divorce lawyer who works in the same office tower as Wasser in Century City, bordering Beverly Hills.

Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt. Photo: Chris Pizzello/ AP

Maintaining control , not to mention dignity, is a challenge when camera crews, craving any tidbit, stampede the lawyers. The pressure, oh yes, it can be annoying. I literally got knocked down in tribunal by the media. Twice, Phillips said.

Wasser is dealing with the pressure, she predicted. Lauras a very fine lawyer. Clients like her. Colleagues like her. Shes earned her stripes. It helps that she is stylish and by all accounts funny, blunt and undazzled by superstar wattage.

Wasser has a particular view about wedding: dont. Briefly married while a law student, “shes been” divorced more than two decades and remains unmarried, preferring long-term live-in boyfriends to husbands.

I dont know that human being were “ve been meaning to” mate for life or be monogamous, she told Interview publication. But, for me, the facet of wedding that is troubling is that its a contract that is governed by the state, and I dont want the state to have control over my personal affairs.

Laura Wasser arriving at tribunal. Photo: Kevork Djansezian/ Getty Images

She has two children by different partners( who came after the divorce) and has verbal not written agreements with them over detention.

Intimate involvement in some of Hollywoods most fraught divorce cases has left Wasser unsentimental about nuptials. A lot of Hollywood is fantasy and when that notion of walking down the aisle in a beautiful dress or suit is so lovely, and youve got unlimited funds, why wouldnt you want to do it time and time again? she told the Telegraph in 2013.

They guess: So, the first one didnt work out and the second one didnt work out, but this one really is the one! Im being glib, but if theres one thing Ive learned, its that people love to get married.

Divorce, she said, is the great equalizer. Rich or poor, everyone has the same concerns, sadness and rancors when a wedding ends. Whether its, Who is going to walk the red carpet with me at the Oscars? or Who is going to go to the office Christmas party with me and Xerox their face next to mine ?, the fears are the same. They all have the same look on their faces when they first come in.

Even so, the stakes are higher with Jolie. There are six children, biological and adopted. There is wealth thanks to cinemas such as Maleficent, Tomb Raider, Salt and Mr& Mrs Smith. If the actor were divorcing Ned from accounting there would still be public fascination, but after a 12 -year romance and two years of wedding, she is divorcing the superstar of Troy, Fight Club and Legends of the Fall. Sex emblem both, their pairing a unity of impossible glamour, a sheen not ensure since Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton , now sundered.

Within minutes of Jolie, 41, initiating divorce proceedings on Tuesday, citing irreconcilable differences, the internet foamed. There were gifs of Pitts ex, Jennifer Aniston, smirking. Then allegations vigorously denied that Pitt, 52, had an affair with co-star Marion Cotillard. Then claims he boozed and smoked too much weed for Jolies comfort. And that he was being investigated for child abuse following an in-flight tantrum, a claim since discredited.

Wasser must negotiate all this knowing that the celebrity news site TMZ seemingly has informants all over LA in police departments, prosecutors offices, courthouses, hospitals, domestic faculty a web constantly thrumming with gossip, misinformation and genuine facts.

Most of the high-profile, high-asset suits are resolved quietly through alternative dispute resolution, ADR, said Gloria Allred, a prominent attorney who represents many of Bill Cosbys alleged victims. Jolie has agreed to joint legal detention but shes asking for sole visitation for him. We dont know if hes going to dispute the fact that. We dont know if therell be a detention battle.

If Wasser follows her usual pattern, there will be no combat, at least not in tribunal. She may charge a $25,000 retainer( 19,000) and $850 an hour but she is, after all, the author of It Doesnt Have to Be That Way: How to Divorce Without Destroying Your Family or Bankrupting Yourself.

Angelina Jolie. Photo: Xinhua/ Rex/ Shutterstock

She was, quite literally, named after the law: Laura Allison Wasser. An notion of her parent, Dennis, who founded Wasser, Cooperman& Mandles in 1976.

She impressed teachers at Loyola law school, said Sande Buhai, one of the professors. Laura was exceptionally matured and diligent, one of the best students we ever had. She has great communication skills and wonderful empathy. I recollect she was working on a example that seemed fairly hopeless and she refused to give up and managed to get a good settlement for our client who had been discriminated against because he was disabled.

She moved to her fathers firm in 1995 and worked on low-profile suits until 2001 when she helped Johnnie Cochran, of OJ Simpson fame, represent Stevie Wonder in a $30 m palimony suit filed by an ex-girlfriend. It opened doors to other celebrity clients: Spears( who filed to divorce Kevin Federline ), Melanie Griffith( Antonio Banderas ), Denise Richards( Charlie Sheen ), Maria Shriver( Arnold Schwarzenegger) and Jolie( Billy Bob Thornton, in 2003 ).

Theres a myth of Laura Wasser in Hollywood, Brian Grazer, the co-founder of Imagine Entertainment, who hired her for his own divorce, told Bloomberg News. She has a reputation for being tough. You can call Laura and tell, Im so angry, blah blah blah blah, but Laura does not operate in that space. She will be soothe and logical, and shell tell you to think about what youre saying.

Sound advice. If people followed it there might be a lot fewer divorces. But people do not follow it, least of all in Hollywood. For the disso queen, despite the wall hanging, there is no end.

Read more: www.theguardian.com

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