Oscar-winning filmmaker Michael Moore, help director of “Bowling for Columbine” and “Fahrenheit 9/11,” prides himself on being a regular guy who often goes after those privileged one-percenters. Strangely, there’s big money in that… although no one ever really knew how much. Well, now they do. Once his traditional courtroom divorce began, it became public record that he actually belongs to the elite class which he so often targets. Nearly three hundred court documents were recently posted on “The Smoking Gun,” evidencing Moore’s considerable assets, including a $2 million, 10,000-square-foot manor plus eight additional homes. Not surprisingly, Moore’s critics are now disparaging him for being a hypocrite who criticizes capitalism, but is wealthy because of it (at its “expense,” so to speak).
Although Moore and his wife eventually reached a settlement agreement, they opted for traditional litigation and mediation, rather than taking a collaborative approach to their dissolution of marriage. Had they followed in the footsteps of many other celebrities and proceeded collaboratively, such personal documents would never have seen the light of day, and Moore’s reputation as an ordinary guy would not have been questioned.
The collaborative process begins with the parties signing a participation agreement. It includes, among other promises like maintaining transparency between each other, an agreement that the parties will maintain the confidentiality of any oral or written communication made by any member of the collaborative team. Any communication made by a team member is confidential, is not subject to disclosure, and may not be used as evidence against the participant in any judicial proceeding. What is discussed at meetings is not discussed outside of those meetings. Documents exchanged between the parties are not entered into the court file.
In collaborative practice, parties pledge to be transparent in their discovery, meaning that they will freely disclose all relevant information to each other. Because of this, many courts allow divorcing spouses to forego filing their financial affidavits, marital settlement agreements, parenting plan, and other personal documents in the court file.
For this reason, many celebrities have opted to proceed with their divorces collaboratively, including Madonna and Guy Ritchie, Robin Williams and his wife, and Tiger Woods and Elin Nordegren. Williams explained the goals of collaborative divorce, “We will strive to be honest, cooperative and respectful as we work in this process to achieve the future well-being of our families.”
For divorcing spouses who want to protect their privacy, collaborative practice is the best option. Any divorce is intimidating and emotional, even without the concern that your personal matters could be made public. Collaborative practice truly is a kinder, gentler, private way.