The 43-year-old lawyer, mortician and mother-of two has kept mostly mum on her divorce from Nida, who is currently serving an eight-year prison sentence after pleading guilty to bank fraud and identity theft in May 2014 (the same year they split).
Save for telling pals Porsha Williams and Cynthia Bailey that their divorce had been finalized this season, Parks never got into the nitty gritty details of what was holding things up or why it has since been overturned after protest from Nida.
It’s a choice she says she made consciously for the sake of their two children: Ayden, 6, and Dylan, 3.
“I never wanted to negatively speak about Apollo,” Parks exclusively tells PEOPLE. “At the end of the day, Apollo is the children’s father. And so I want them to be able to make their own opinions about who he is as a father.”
“I respect my children too much,” she continues. “I don’t want them to look back on television, tabloids or something I said that will make them feel like their father was not a great father. I’m always doing things to err on the side of not saying anything if I can’t say anything that’s not nice about him. It was important to me to maintain some privacy around it.”
But not talking negatively about Nida is one thing. Keeping that part of her life secret from her RHOA cast is another. So why didn’t Parks confide more in her fellow Atlanta Housewives?
“None of them had been supportive throughout the process,” she says. “So I knew their questions weren’t coming from a place of support — it was from a place of being nosy, wanting to know what was going on with my marriage and the divorce.”
The clearest example of that came from a scene this season when Parks’ longtime frenemy Kenya Moore threw her a “divorce party” — a surprise event that sent Parks leaving in anger.
“When we make light of it on the show and trivialize marriage, for me it’s somewhat disgusting,” Parks explained. “Because at the end of the day, there’s such a breakdown of the family unit in the United States. When you can pin and correlate very tragic events to the demise of a family, it lets me know that it’s very important to make sure that the family unit stays intact.”
“No marriage can survive everything, but we have to respect the boundaries of people’s marriages,” she adds. “On reality shows, I think they glamorize the downfall of marriage. And I didn’t want to be a part of that.”
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As for where the divorce stands now, Parks says it still hasn’t been finalized since their latest setback. “The judge overturned it, so I’m forging forward to do whatever I need to do resolve this,” she says.
Nida, meanwhile, appears ready to move on himself. He remains engaged to his new fiancée Sherien Almufti, who showed up at the end of this season of RHOA with a message of support from Nida to Parks’ rival Kandi Burruss.
Parks doesn’t know Almufti, and she’s keeping the focus on her kids. “I always want the boys to be able to have a good relationship with Apollo. And I hope that that’s his desire as well,” she says. “We’ve got two beautiful sons and my main objective is to make sure that they’re stable and happy and healthy. And that they have opportunities to do so and live with dignity.”
Ultimately, she wants fans to know that despite what they saw on RHOA, the decision to divorce Nida wasn’t easy.
“No one enters marriage with the thoughts of divorce,” she confesses. “When you’re going through a divorce it definitely changes people and people act very differently. And so the person you marry will definitely not conduct themselves as the same person during the course of a divorce. And so it’s very emotional. It’s a very hard process. I wouldn’t wish it on anyone.”
The Real Housewives of Atlanta airs Sundays (8 a.m. ET) on Bravo.