Discretion and Privacy – Keeping your High Profile Divorce Private
Finding an experienced lawyer to handle your divorce is crucial to ensure the best possible outcome, it’s also important when it comes to privacy and discretion. Executive, celebrity, athlete or other high profile divorces present unique challenges and require a level of discretion that can seem impossible. How do you manage the media while managing a strenuous relationship and conducting business with the courts?
What are the Rules of Privacy?
Keeping a divorce completely secret may not be possible. The dissolution of a marriage is a fact of public record, and the hearing where the decree is pronounced will be open to the public and the press. Some details are available to the public, but there are areas that can be kept private, and strategies for keeping as many details as possible out of the public eye
With respect to financial proceedings, there is more confidentiality. Most financial proceedings are held in private 1. Protective orders can be entered with the court that require all personal information to be kept confidential. 2. Settlement agreements can be private and kept out of the public record. They are not filed with the court but are still fully enforceable by the court. The judge, however, is allowed to exercise discretion over whether or not members of the accredited press can be present.
What are Your Options?
Sometimes litigation is necessary to come to a resolution in a divorce. But often it is not (less than 5% of divorces go to trial). If absolute privacy is desired, it may be better to settle a case through alternate dispute resolution such as mediation or arbitration. Arbitration is a binding alternative dispute resolution process where the parties appoint their own judge and agree to be bound by the decision of the arbitrator. The hearing is private. You can include terms in your settlement agreement that can make it confidential. Domestic arbitration is very useful to many high-profile clients and its privacy can be managed uniquely.
As far as court proceedings in divorce go, they are generally public. Because of this, court records are open to public scrutiny. However, if both parties agree they may ask the court to file divorce records under seal. If the court grants this request, those records or portions of records filed under seal will not be a matter of public record.
Can You Control the Press?
The public perception of the split can have a significant impact on both sides. The rules about reporting court proceedings can be strict. Both parties are able to tell their stories to the press provided they do not infringe on privileged or confidential material. No one wants to see their reputation tarnished via the media. If you are concerned about how the press will report your split, it is important to take a cohesive approach to the management of your legal case and of the media. Talk to your lawyer about a “gag” order. A protective order will limit or prohibit what is disclosed to third parties and the public in general.
Divorce is a difficult and emotional process in any scenario. However, with a high-profile case, an experienced attorney can help put things in perspective and reach common ground with the other side while still looking out for your best interests. As you look forward to your new, independent life, your reputation is an important part of that vision. The exposure of your divorce can make a huge difference to your public perception and/or privacy. So it is vital that you manage it wisely.
DAWN has years of experience in representing people in the public eye. We have represented numerous powerful women executives, wives and girlfriends of professional athletes, musicians and other entertainers. The attorneys at DAWN keep celebrity clients out of the spotlight. We protect your image and keep all business matters private. If you are considering divorce or need counseling in child support, child custody or other family law areas, call us today to schedule a confidential consultation.