For those of you who are frantically pre-ordering flowers and getting your teddy bars and chocolates in order — remember that a happy Valentine’s Day doesn’t always come in the form of fancy dinners and diamonds bracelets. For about 500 or so couples, it seems, their ideal Valentine’s Day gift includes a free divorce lawyer.
Bentley was reportedly struck with such a stroke of warmhearted-ness when one of his newly divorced students invited him to one of those ultra trendy divorce parties you keep hearing so much about:
“She’d just had her divorce finalized,” says Bentley, “and she was celebrating. I’d never thought about that before—celebrating divorce. So, I thought, why not do something special for Valentine’s Day? You can’t find a new love before you close the chapter on the old.”
Bentley maintains that as of yesterday, 500 people have tossed their hat in the ring. Said lucky spouse — or couple — will be selected based on “the most compelling and convincing story as to why they should be the winner.” And those of you with bubbling nasty custody issues need not apply, as Bentley’s website specifies “minimum” custody problems in the official contest rules. The divorce must be uncontested as well. Bentley and his colleagues will pore over the entries as they approach the 11:59 p.m. EST February 12 deadline — just enough time to cancel those Valentine’s Day flowers in exchange for a divorce decree:
As decision hour nears, he his colleagues, he says, will narrow down the list, picking the stories they feel are most affecting. Then, after the contest closes, they will make their decision. “We’re looking for someone truly struggling to move forward,” he says, “maybe someone who’s overcome some obstacle —a foreclosure, say. Maybe they’re struggling to make ends meet, and they don’t have enough money for a divorce.”
And hey, hey, hey — cancer gives you a leg up in this competition, according to Bentley:
“Somebody diagnosed with cancer. Maybe that’s one reason their spouse no longer wants to be with them,” he speculates.
And for all those skeptics out there, Bentley maintains that he absolutely does mean “free divorce”:
“They won’t have to take out their wallet for anything,” he says. “All the hearings, all the paperwork. I will pay all the fees and expenses, to the end. What they’re getting would ordinarily cost them $1,500 to $3,000.”
Too bad Kim Kardashian isn’t a Michigan resident!