The Truth and Fictions of the Netflix movie “Marriage Story” by a Divorce Attorney

By Jaime R. Girgenti, Esq.

Koch & Hoffman, P.A.

Marital and Family Law Attorney


Who’s been home watching Netflix lately?  You have?!   No coincidence I have too!


A movie I recently viewed inspired me to write this post.   Have you seen the movie Marriage Story starring Adam Driver and Scarlett Johansson?  If you have not seen it, I definitely suggest adding it to your que.


Adam and Scarlett did an amazing job playing a young couple, Nicole and Charlie Barber, who have one young child, Henry, struggling through the often painful process of a divorce. They both did an amazing job portraying the roller coaster of emotions individuals often feel when going through a divorce.  I particularly loved Laura Dern’s character playing the role of Nicole’s divorce attorney, Nora.  A role that won her an Oscar!


One might ponder after viewing the film how accurate some of the scenes were compared to a real- life divorce.  Here is my list of the fictions and truths in Marriage Story.


Can your sister serve your spouse with divorce papers? NO! FICTION.

I loved the scene in the movie when Nicole convinces her sister to hand Charlie divorce papers, upon his arrival to their L.A. home to pick up their son.  The scene definitely brought some laughs, but in Florida, service of process can’t be effectuated by a family member.  It’s not quite that easy, although there are certainly ways us lawyers can handle the situation so that your spouse is not caught off guard, or too surprised when divorce papers are filed with a Court.


After living in a state as an intact family, can my spouse move to a different state, and then remain in that state with my child? YES! Truth.

 In the movie, Nicole and Charlie lived in New York City.  Their son was born in New York City.  When their marriage was unwinding, Charlie gave permission for Nicole to return to her home town of L.A. when she landed an acting role on a television show.  Nicole then leaves New York City and heads to L.A. with their son Henry, which is where she eventually filed for divorce.

Throughout the movie, we see Charlie fighting to have Nicole and Henry return to New York.  Eventually he gives up the hopeless fight.

We do see this happen often in cases. Jurisdiction can be a very complicated part of a divorce action.  It’s so important to seek counsel as soon as you get the sense that your marriage might be headed towards a divorce.


 Do Judges appoint evaluators to investigate parents and report back to the Court on custody? YES! Truth.

 This happens very frequently in divorce cases when parents can’t agree on timesharing with their minor child or children.  In Florida, we refer to those evaluators as the “Guardian ad Litem” (GAL), the “guardian of the suit.”

A GAL is often an attorney appointed by the Judge whose main role is to investigate the facts of the case and then render their findings and opinions back to the Judge.  A GAL serves a very important role to the court and to the children involved in the process.

What I loved about the movie was the message of hope it portrayed.  Through the fighting and the hurt, Nicole and Charlie ultimately came together at the end for the sake of their son.  The movie ends with Nicole allowing Charlie to take their son on her night, and with Nicole tying Charlie’s unlaced shoe, a symbolic gesture of kindness and forgiveness. As a divorce lawyer, it’s always so refreshing to see parents that can move forward in a positive way for the sake of their children.

So grab some popcorn and look for Marriage Story on Netflix if you have not seen it yet!




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