Season seven of “The Real Housewives of Potomac” returned with new storylines and series regulars like fan favorite Ashley Darby. It’s been over six months since the reality TV star filed for divorce from her soon-to-be ex-husband, Michael Darby. Their marriage has had its share of ups and downs, especially since the show began in 2016. Their boys, Dean, 3, and Dylan, 1, also have been a part of the Bravo show. But now Ashley’s returned to take fans on the next journey in her life.
ABS talked to Darby about co-parenting during separation, tackling her emotions and buying her first home.
“So it’s just like so amazing how all of us are leading our own path,” said Darby. “And then when we’re all together. That’s just a whole journey in itself.”
Over the past few months, the 34-year-old has been going viral for dancing on TikTok. The inspiration came from staying up late nursing her second-born, Dylan, who was born in March 2021.
“It is really fun and it’s a challenge. So when I started out, I was actually still nursing my son, so I would nurse him at like three in the morning,” said Darby. “I’d put him down after, and then I would be wide awake, you know, like 3:30 [a.m.]. Like what am I going to do with my time? And so I would learn TikTok dances at 4:00 in the morning, and that was what I did until I fell asleep.”
She said Dylan and Dean are “blossoming” and getting “better each day,” despite their parents divorcing.
Darby announced her separation from Michael in April, saying it’s been “almost eight magical years.” In the state of Virginia, couples must be physically separated for a year before filing for divorce.
The Maryland native said they decided to part ways before this new season of “RHOP” began. However, it’s been “very emotional” as she unpacked her feelings in therapy over the last six months.
“I wasn’t quite sure how much I would be comfortable sharing simply because I am very protective of my marriage,” she expressed. “I’m always going to be truthful about it, but I still do hold it close to my chest because I’ve been married to him for eight years.”
She added, “I’m very protective of that union, even if we are separating.”
In the episode that aired on Oct. 9, Darby shared with her co-stars Gizelle Bryant, Karen Huger and Robyn Dixon, her hope for an “amicable” divorce. She also revealed that she and Michael were purchasing a home together under the name of their joint LLC. Her reasoning for doing so is mainly due to his knowledge and work as a real estate developer.
“That was the reason that I wanted to do this process with him. Aside from the fact that we’re married, he knows so much about real estate. This is literally what this man has done for over half of his life,” she explained. “So if there’s anyone who I’m going to trust when it comes to this particular area, it will definitely be Michael Darby.”
The super-protective mom admitted she’s “nervous” to live on her own, especially with two young children. When asked if Michael will stay in the main house or a separate residence on the property, she jokingly added, “We’ll get to that bridge when we cross it.”
Viewers and cast members criticized Darby for buying a house with the man she plans to divorce. The philanthropist noted that she’s doing what “works” best with her children’s father, even if that looks different from others and their relationships.
She said, “What works for me and what works for my family, Michael and I, isn’t necessarily what would have worked for Karen and her relationship or Gizelle and Jamal, or even what Robyn and Juan were doing. So how I’m operating and moving is I really do have to intuitively do what is best for me and the children, for us to have a more cohesive life.”
Darby continued, “Because there are variables in my life and in Michael’s life that — so many — no one really knows about. This is really our own journey to go through. So the decision that we made to do that, to buy a house together…was more financially prudent.”
In the meantime, she said she will remain focused on her children, and rediscovering herself as a single woman and mother. “Even though I feel good and I have a great support system that’s helping me rediscover myself, there are still so many elements of my life that I am going to miss and that I’m sort of mourning. So I don’t really know what it’s going to look like in the next six months.”
During their marriage, Michael served as the primary breadwinner, paying for their entire lifestyle. Their original prenup states that Ashley will receive a large lump sum if they divorce within the first three years. The agreement was renegotiated during season three of “RHOP” to include two additional years. However, Virginia is not a community property state, which means a judge will decide whether or not she gets half in the divorce. According to VSBlaw.org, “Virginia law provides that the court can order that the non-employee spouse receive up to fifty percent of the marital share of any pension, profit-sharing or deferred compensation plan or retirement benefits.”