Heal the Hearts Ball: A Valentine’s Day Party for Divorcees

A Valentine’s Day bash with a twist celebrates its 16th year.
Photos: Tracy Chan; Frolic Hawai‘i


What do you get when you combine Valentine’s Day, veteran divorce lawyers, their clients, Family Court staff and a few hundred additional partygoers? No, not the setup for a Vince Vaughn film. It’s actually the premise for the invitation-only Heal the Hearts Ball, thrown annually by the law firm Coates and Frey.


This year marks the 16th edition of the bash, branded, as usual, with a Band-Aid slapped across the firm’s broken-heart logo. Attorney Brad Coates says the turnout averages between 750 and 1,000 people. Attendees usually sport pink or red and varying degrees of wariness.


40 percent: The estimated increase in requests for divorce lawyers around mid-February each year, according to Time magazine.


Born of the emotional minefield of divorce, the party sounds grim, but isn’t. It’s actually a mix of reunion, guarded optimism and breezy pau hana. In fact, insiders report the recovery party has been responsible for at least two weddings and one pregnancy.


“We do indeed try to keep an upbeat tone at the Coates and Frey firm, despite the fact that divorce lawyering is often a difficult, stressful and sometimes sad profession,” Coates says. “We always try to make the best of the bad situation that so many folks (i.e., 50 percent of all marriages) go through in life.”


Left: Founding law partners, Greg Frey, left, and Bradley Coates.


While big thank-you parties have gone the way of shoulder pads and leisure suits for most companies, Coates and longtime law partner Greg Frey kept theirs going.


Coates explains: “The idea started way back in 1998 when we thought it might be cool and classy to throw some kind of a gathering to show our appreciation for our current and former divorce clients, the marriage counselors with whom we work closely, UH Press (which published his book Divorce with Decency), our fellow divorce law practitioners and, most importantly, the hardworking and often underappreciated staff of the Family Court system.”


Cheers to keeping it cool and classy.


Read More Stories by Robbie Dingeman