Lessons of High Profile Divorces
High profile celebrities and business moguls who find themselves getting divorced have more than most of us to lose. Financially, they are likely to have more assets to divvy up. But socially, because of their prestige, they must also deal with the whole world being interested in their private business.
What, if anything, can we learn from these folks. . . and from their divorce stories?
First, retain an attorney to design your prenuptial agreement for you. Steven Spielberg’s divorce from Amy Irving cost him $100 million. The divorce settlement was reached after a judge discredited their prenuptial agreement which had apparently been written on a cocktail napkin. Prenuptial agreements are important, legally binding contracts. Take them seriously. You’ll likely be at the peak of romance when you contemplate your prenup, but remember that life is long, and feelings change. Attorneys can help.
And it need not be a nasty process. You can retain a mediator (a neutral third-party professional) to help the two of you craft your agreement together. Or, you can contract a collaborative team to help you as a couple. The team generally consists of one attorney for each of you, a facilitator, and a financial professional. They will help you two explore not only the financial side of your contemplated break-up, were such a thing to happen, but the emotional aspects, as well.
Collaborate Don’t Litigate
Second, if you do divorce, divorce collaboratively, and keep your private matters out of the public eye. You don’t want to end up like Tiger Woods, who wound up paying his wife, Elin Nordegren, $110 million after only six years of marriage. But even worse, he was at the center of a highly publicized infidelity scandal, in which he was accused of cheating on Elin with at least 120 different women. His reputation was trashed, and his golf career fractured due to the trauma.
Or consider the $250 million divorce of Arnold Schwarzenegger and Maria Shriver. Shriver filed for divorce after the California governor made headlines for fathering a child with the couple’s housekeeper of many years, Mildred Baena. Because there was no prenup agreement in place, Shriver was awarded $250 million, along with custody of the couple’s kids.
If these couples had been able to divorce collaboratively, their personal issues would have remained private. Collaborative divorces do not take place in the public courthouse or under public scrutiny. Further, collaborative professionals usually file shell financial affidavits and marital settlement agreements so that the world isn’t privy to these important documents as it is in litigated divorces.
Divorce collaboratively, and you’ll save time, as well. Consider Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt, who, combined, are worth $400 million. Despite that they were only married for two years when papers were filed in September 2016, their divorce settlement is still in dispute. Their divorce is lasting longer than their marriage did! But if they had chosen a collaborative divorce, their team would have been motivated to complete the divorce as quickly as possible while reaching a fair solution.
A collaborative team aims to meet every two-to-four weeks for two hours at a time until the matter is resolved. This momentum keeps the divorce moving forward. The attorneys have pledged to withdraw if litigation is required, so they avoid playing litigation games and unnecessarily delaying matters. The team also includes neutral financial and mental health professionals so that the couple doesn’t waste money on battling experts.
Learning From Others
We can learn a lot from the mistakes of the rich and famous. If you want to divorce with less stress, choose to collaborate. You’ll end up with an agreement that meets your most important interests. You’ll be more likely to stick by the agreement because you’ll have more ownership of it than if a judge, who doesn’t know you or your kids, made the decisions for you. And if you do have post-judgment issues, your team can always re-convene to help you resolve those issues without court intervention.
If you feel that collaboration is right for help with your prenuptial agreement, divorce, or any legal matter, contact me today, Joryn Jenkins, at Open Palm Law. I can help.
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About this week’s author, Joryn Jenkins.
Joryn, attorney and Open Palm Founder, began her own firm here in Tampa after a 14-year career in law, two of which she served as a professor of law at Stetson University. She is a recipient of the prestigious A. Sherman Christensen Award, an honor bestowed in the United States Supreme Court upon those who have provided exceptional leadership in the American Inns of Court Movement. For more information on Joryn’s professional experience, take a look at her resume.