"Bad mother!" "Adulterer!" Those are likely to be the arguments when, and if, Christie Brinkley’s divorce action against Peter Cook, her fourth husband, hits the Suffolk County courts on July 2. It all started two years ago when Brinkley had already asked for a separation from Cook, and The New York Post tattled that Cook, a prominent architect in the Hamptons, had had an affair with an 18 year old in his office, Diana Bianchi.
Cook, it should be noted, was 47 at the time. Brinkley was a fine looking 52, but she was humiliated by the talk of a teenage Lolita, and abruptly fled to the West Coast with their two minor children. Public opinion was solidly in her favor.
Brinkley and Cook reached an agreement in January for temporary custody of Jack, 13, whom Cook legally adopted from Brinkley’s third marriage, and their daughter Sailor, 9. (Brinkley also famously has a 22-year-old daughter, Alexa, with Billy Joel.) The July 2 trial therefore is shaping up to be a battle over the division of assets, including houses and boats, despite the prenup Cook signed when they were married.
Gearing up for the championship match, Brinkley has successfully petitioned the judge to hear testimony in open court, and has threatened to reveal embarrassing things (porn, skirt-chasing, swinging, swapping) about her soon to be ex-husband. Cook’s lawyers, and the children's law guardian, have claimed that Brinkley ("Bad mother") is permanently damaging the children by dragging all of this into court.
It’s Divorce 101: One side argues the facts, the other side argues that the messenger should be shot.
So far, Brinkley seems to have the most to gain. And Brinkley may be willing to put up with charges that she is a bad mother just so she can humiliate her husband in court.
Even with a judge ruling in her favor, saying that an open trial “would provide a basis for societal education,” opinion has turned against her. The Daily News ran the headline “Divorce-trial antics could hurt Christie Brinkley & her kids: Experts." The story quoted divorce mediator Sam Margulies as saying: “You don't gain respect by litigating a divorce. There's really no winner. Lay people think that divorce law is set up to vindicate the deserving and smite the wicked, but it isn't."
Brinkley's lawyer points out that they are trying to get Cook to settle without the itigation, and that all of this has been dragged through the media already.
On June 24, The Post (and Brinkley’s lawyers) gave Cook a further reason to settle. It reported that when the teenage Bianchi said she might charge Cook with sexual harassment in the workplace, he had paid her $300,000 in hush money. (How’s that for a squandering of marital assets?)
Meredith Viera discussed the case on The Today Show, where a divorce attorney said, “They’re playing a dangerous game of chicken with her children’s lives.”
Ms. Viera, why is it the plural "they" who are playing a dangerous game, but these are "her" children?
Vieira also asked FirstWivesWorld’s own expert on blended families, Dr. Dale Atkins, “Is it possible to shield these children from harm?”
“I don’t think it’s possible,” Atkins told her. “You’re playing with fire and you’re playing with the children’s lives.” Atkins suggested that a therapist’s office would be a better place to work out such conflicts, “not in front of their children, and not in front of the world.”
So which side will fold first? And what do you think? Is Brinkley a righteously scorned wife, or careless with her children's psyches?