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'Divorce selfies' let couples put a happy face on a difficult ordeal

With more couples putting a positive spin on a difficult situation with 'divorce selfies,' these couples tell the stories behind their smiling photos.
/ Source: TODAY

Monica Silva and Denny Dumicic were walking out of the Bergen County Courthouse in New Jersey after finalizing their divorce last year when Silva decided to commemorate the moment.

The pair got together and smiled for a photo Silva snapped with her iPhone.

Later, she posted it on Instagram along with the hashtag #divorceselfie.

"Divorce is final,'' she wrote. "Think we get along better now than when we were married."

Silva, 40, told TODAY the photo and tongue-in-cheek hashtag were an attempt to put a positive spin on what had been a difficult ordeal.

"I'll be honest, he thought I was crazy for wanting to take a picture,'' Silva, who lives in Westwood, told TODAY. "We had been through so much. We were separated for quite a while, so we were finally at the point where we could make fun of it."

A search of the hashtag on Instagram and Facebook reveals dozens of couples who have done the same, commemorating their split with cheerily ironic photos that, in some cases, display their divorce papers. (Or, in one couple’s case, a chance meeting with Bill Murray.)

Silva and Dumicic had been separated for about four years before finalizing their divorce. They have a 14-year-old son and 11-year-old daughter together.

Part of Silva’s thinking was to let her kids know things were OK.

"The kids thought the picture was funny, and they know we are on good terms,” Silva said.

"They know me and mom are getting along,” added Dumicic, 43. He did not see the photo right away, though, because he is not friends with his ex on Instagram or Facebook.

For former couple Lauren Hill, 29, and Lennin Pastrana, 40, the divorce selfie was a way to clear up any confusion among family members about their status after they were separated for two years.

The couple, who are from the Chicago area and have two daughters, 8 and 5, were married for nine years before splitting up.

"I'm really big on humor, and my ex-husband is too,” Hill told TODAY. “I thought it would be a humorous and fun way to announce it to friends and family — 'Hey we're divorced, but we're OK.'''

Pastrana and Hill snapped the photo at her house. After they’d finalized things at the courthouse, Pastrana had stopped by to mow the lawn.

"I want people to see that it doesn't have to be this dramatic, tumultuous type of thing,'' Hill said.

"You survive, you move on, it gets better. It's a chapter closing and one opening."

Another couple, Sara Olsen, 41, and Korum Bischoff, 42, realized they weren't quite ready to go their separate ways after 25 years together.

So after their courthouse session, the former high school sweethearts in Poulsbo, Washington, hit a nearby bar for a final toast. (Bischoff has since remarried.)

"Much like a wake, we headed to a local pub where we shared a drink, gushed about our sons, and expressed relief to be done with a painful, destabilizing process,'' Olsen told TODAY in an email.

"It was part funeral, part rebirth, and it felt natural to take a photo together as we'd always done to memorialize life's big moments.

Friends and family were supportive when they saw the picture, she said.

"They understood this photo wasn't intended to glorify divorce or debase marriage, but was a statement that we planned to move forward with respect for one another."

A year after Dumicic and Silva separated, Dumicic lived in the basement of the house they’d shared, and the two alternated days to get their children acclimated to being with one parent at a time.

Silva also wanted to avoid the type of situation she saw in her own family.

"My parents have been divorced for 20-something years and they still cannot get along, and I did not want to put my kids through that,'' she said.

Silva even had a friend suggest a divorce party.

"Denny was like, 'OK, that's a little too much,''' she laughed.

Follow writer Scott Stump on Twitter.