The Divorce Posse

Remember when all it took to get divorced was a shark lawyer? Today, tony Philadelphians don't dare split up without a cadre of pricey experts — from decorators and plastic surgeons to chakra-soothing massage therapists

POSSE MEMBERS CAN help with more practical, nuts-and-bolts problems, too: With your built-in babysitter — that is, your spouse — gone, both parents now have to scramble for sitters, or at least find a $500-a-week nanny who’ll pinball back and forth between houses. “One parent might be 40 minutes away from the other, so the kids are transported back and forth by a nanny,” says Lisa Diehl, owner of ABC Nanny Source, a Philly agency. “We get a lot of summer positions where the husband needs a nanny to cover those months. It’s not as uncommon as you might think for Dad to have full custody.”

And then there’s the psychological uptick one can get from new Scalamandré upholstery: “It’s healthier than if people just kind of sit there and do nothing,” says Rittenhouse Square interior designer Creg Oosterhart, whose hourly rate is $185. “At my level, people have acquired possessions of value. … Somebody gets the house, and whoever’s moving out wants to put their own sense of identity on a new place. Guys will often go to a contemporary look, more tonal, and cleaner, less clutter,” he notes, with most springing for the predictable: flat-screen TV, embedded sound system, marble-topped bar. His women clients tend to girl up their houses in “the way they really wanted it done in the first place.” Some people start with a redecorating party: “I’ve heard of friends coming in and replacing all the photos of the husband and wife with pictures of all her friends and children,” adds Kendall Brown.

It’s that emotional support that may in fact be the crux of the divorce posse: It might be literally difficult to drag stuff home from Lowe’s by yourself, but the real reason you take your handyman with you is to stave off some of the incredible loneliness of the event. One woman felt like she wasn’t invited to many parties post-divorce, which was eased a bit by hanging out with her decorator. If the divorce posse is capitalizing on our misery, well, that’s the price many are willing to pay for the relief its members provide. (And is it really so different from paying a shrink?)

The sad part is, you wonder: If people had done all this breast implanting and hard work in the therapist’s office earlier — in essence, had convened a divorce posse while still married — would they in fact still be married? Surgeon Brandow says that husbands often balk at their wives’ getting surgery, but notes that the women inevitably get their nip-tucks anyway after they split (meaning, the next guy gets the $6,500 perky boobs). “I tell husbands who complain that this is the best money you can spend,” he says. Psychologist Edelman also sighs that couples often wait too long to come in for therapy. Could these marriages have been saved with Pfrimmer massage and Restylane?