Divorcing When You’re in the Public Eye

By | Published On: August 5, 2014

In this day of instantaneous transmission of the latest “news,” the premium put on privacy by public figures is greater than ever. You need only to have read Alec Baldwin’s book about his divorce from Kim Basinger or the Washington Post article about Peter Orszag’s child support modification hearing in D.C. Superior Court to appreciate that both the parties and their children must have suffered real damage from the public airing of the family’s dirty linen.

In addition to protecting the personal privacy of the divorcing parties, their children, and their extended families, it’s important to many parties to keep confidential certain financial matters, including income and the extent of a party’s estate. For example, the world now knows that Mr. Orszag earned $3.1 million in 2013 and was expected to earn nearly $4 million in 2014. And the public has access to information about the family lifestyle, including “tuition bills at the tony Georgetown Day School, trips on private jets, nannies and private coaching for the kids’ sports.”

In addition to protecting personal and business privacy, the Collaborative Law process enables the parties to bring deeply held principles and beliefs into their divorce. When U.S. Senator Frist of Tennessee filed for divorce in 2012, the “bare bones” filing with the Court, possible because the parties had ironed out their issues “through a collaborative law process,” allowed both Senator Frist and his wife to maintain their dignity at an extremely difficult time in their lives. And they preserved the ability to continue to be joint parents and grandparents of their extended family. When billionaire Roy Disney, nephew of Walt Disney and heir to a sizeable chunk of the Disney fortune, was divorcing in 2007, he and his long-time wife honored the good parts of their marriage by using the Collaborative process to iron out their differences. And when actor Robin Williams’ marriage ended, he and his wife also used the Collaborative Law process, pledging to be “honest, cooperative and respectful” during their divorce proceedings, and to keep their children’s interests at the forefront.

For the very wealthy, using the Collaborative divorce process can save a lot of money as well as emotional wear and tear on families. T. Boone Pickens, the Texas tycoon, used the collaborative divorce approach in his parting of ways from his fourth wife, Madeline. When interviewed by a reporter, Pickens first said that the Collaborative approach saved him about $100 million but then smiled and revised his answer to “several million.” Pickens became such a believer in the benefits of the Collaborative process that he donated $100,000 to the Collaborative Law Institute of Texas, the state-wide organization that supports training and excellence on the part of the Collaborative professionals throughout Texas.

Whether you have achieved notoriety through politics, business or the entertainment world, the Collaborative divorce approach offers significant, unique benefits as you travel down the road to divorce.

Five of our attorneys at Tucker Family Law are trained in the Collaborative divorce process in Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, DC. If you’d like to discuss your case with them and a potential path forward, request a consultation here.