When celebrities or high net worth couples divorce, it seems everyone knows, even when every attempt is made to keep it out of the public eye. Knowing that there are spying eyes is the first step in protecting private information.
Divorce in the Public Eye
Divorce can get ugly, it goes without saying. Warring couples can argue about anything. But perhaps the one thing they can agree on is the need to shield any children involved. For high net worth couples, they also seem to agree on the need to keep the family’s name and legacy in good standings.
According to partner and co-chair at Pryor Cashman LLP, Judith L. Poller, “Celebrity clients nearly always arrive at a settlement rather than going to trial. After legal costs, privacy concerns are probably the biggest reason why.”
Gain Control of Divorce
But often a high net worth spouse, in an effort to gain control during the divorce process, will leak any information they have, or authorize other members of their team to leak information on the other parent, according to Stacy D. Phillips, a founder and Managing Principal at Phillips Lerner LLC. In these cases, the children become collateral damage.
“Everyone understands that anything said in court is on the record. Some judges are more inclined than others to compel parties toward settlement by facilitating private backroom discussions. In California, where all filings, except paternity, are open to the public, clients have the ability to hire private judges to hear arguments and make rulings confidentially,” said Phillips. ”Even so, hearings before a private judge are considered public trials and technically anyone can attend, but in reality the press does not. And, all pleadings must still be filed at the public courthouse.”
But even when court documents are sealed, it seems private information can still be leaked. “Tort claims often seek damages for wrongdoing not covered by marital law, including allegations of assault or sexually transmitted diseases. Even if unfounded these accusations can be incredibly harmful to business prospects and professional relationships,” said Poller. So, when pursuing your high net worth divorce, you should understand your jurisdictions laws regarding how proceedings and filings are kept private, while also ensuring your team of professionals is doing everything they can to ensure privacy for everyone involved.
Source: Forbes, Protecting Privacy In A Divorce, December 8, 2014
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