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Family Law Blog

Comment on divorce & family law 

What’s in a name?

Another high-profile couple break-up, another deluge of incorrect headlines about quickie divorce. I’ve said it before many times so I am not going to labour the point here about Cheryl and Ashley Cole but there is no such thing. Celebrities have to wait the same time as everyone else etc etc. How do we educate the media on this important family law issue? Would it change anything if we did spell it out and they did listen? I doubt it. “Quickie divorce” is a snappy headline. It sends completely the wrong message though and gives the illusion there is some mythical fast track for celebrities if their relationship breaks down. There isn’t. They are human too.

What caught my attention slightly more on this occasion though were the stories that Cheryl is going to keep ex-husband Ashley’s surname. She feels that hanging on to Cole rather than reverting to Tweedy is better for her career apparently. According to the papers anyway.

I find this a little strange. Wasn’t she famous before she became Mrs Cole? Was it not a showbiz marriage splashed across the tabloids four years ago because it was a famous girl band singer marrying a famous England footballer? That leads me to the conclusion that her career was already doing pretty well before she married an overpaid footballer with a very high opinion of himself and (allegedly) a wandering eye.

I would say the majority of people do still choose to change their name when they get married – or divorced. That in itself can sometimes be a tricky process, remembering who to tell and what legally you need to do. In itself, that is almost a reason for only changing it once. Almost. Many are happy to see the back of an “adopted” name though after the end of a marriage.

In the celebrity world, it is perhaps more common for people to keep their original name. Catherine Zeta-Jones didn’t become Catherine Douglas after her marriage to Michael (it doesn’t sound as exotic maybe?) Will Katy Perry become Katy Brand when she marries (reformed) lothario Russell? I would bet not. So the fact that Cheryl Tweedy decided to become Cheryl Cole in the first place may have raised a few eyebrows. Now she has divorced him following reports of serial infidelity, you would have thought she couldn’t wait to get back to being a Tweedy. Not so. Eyebrows raised again.

Does she really feel it is better for her record sales and people will forget who she is if she changes her name back? I doubt it. In fact it would give the record company an excuse to reissue a special edition with her changed name to give collectors something to dribble over.

Or could it just be that, like many couples, she simply finds it hard to let go and accept it is all over?

Andrew Woolley
Divorce Solicitor


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