The Rendells Split Wisely and Amicably, But Is Divorce Political Suicide?

Since I mediate divorces on both sides of the Delaware river, I had planned to blog this week on a new development in New Jersey family law since last week’s blog was on Pennsylvania’s new child custody law. I can’t ignore, however, the big divorce news that broke this week in Pennsylvania. The Rendells are splitting up after 40 years of marriage.

I would like to congratulate the Rendells on the civil approach to their separation that they expressed in the email they sent to friends and associates. As a mediator, I couldn’t be more pleased with their joint, respectful approach to the dissolution of their marriage. There’s nothing I’d rather see than a couple move on amicably. The addition of their request that they both be included in invitations and that they will be comfortable at the same events is such a wise addition. One of the consequences of divorce is the custody of friends and social circles. The Rendells preempted the foreseeable awkwardness by requesting that they both be invited to the same events since they would be comfortable attending together.

The general response I’ve heard to the news of the Rendell split this week is, “Why now?” Then two beats later…”Oh, it’s because he’s leaving office” or “he’s no longer running for office.” This reaction begs the question – Would you not vote for a candidate you thought was otherwise qualified because he or she was divorced or divorcing? Is divorce “political suicide? What do you think?