The Currency of Privacy
By Frederic J. Siegel
Posted: 3rd November 2022 14:11In recent years, we have seen some of the richest people in the world end their marriages - Jeff Bezos and MacKenzie Scott, Bill and Melinda Gates, and Gisele Bündchen and Tom Brady, to name a few.
Notably, all of these super rich couples settled out of court and very privately. It is refreshing to see the mega wealthy not air their dirty laundry and keep their finances and divorce terms private.
What lessons can we glean from these extremely rich, high-profile couples who successfully managed to keep their divorces under the radar?
The lives of the rich and famous are unique because they have so much "stuff" and so many people to help them with all of it. The typical super rich have multiple homes, large housekeeping staffs, personal assistants, chefs, drivers, PR people (if they are well-known), security, lawyers, accountants, and therapists; and, if they have children, tutors, nannies, and more. It really does take a village.
In order to effectively, quietly and expeditiously divorce it is essential to have the right team in place, and that starts with the lawyers. While divorcing parties often believe is it is better to hire lawyers who don't get along, the opposite is actually true. If the parties hire experienced lawyers who work well together and agree on a vision for a "good" divorce, the odds dramatically increase for amicability.
As a practicing divorce lawyer for almost 40 years, it is much easier to settle a complex, high net worth case when opposing counsel shares a similar view – to be as far away as possible from court, respect our clients’ privacy, and understand the art of compromise. It is also crucial to hire an attorney who knows that it is not about her or him but about the client.
Unfortunately, finding those kinds of lawyers is becoming more difficult these days, but it is well worth the effort. I support organisations that facilitate positive relationships among family lawyers such as the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers (AAML) and the International Academy of Family Lawyers (IAFL).
In addition to lawyers, high net worth individuals with complex financial assets will likely require forensic accountants that specialise in business valuation, real estate, art, jewellery and antique experts as well as public relations and social media specialists. Co-parenting counsellors work well for custody issues by helping the parties take their children out of the line of fire. In substantially large divorce cases, it may also help to bring in expert trust and estate lawyers who know how to protect wealth for future generations.
Even with the best intentions, disagreements do arise and sometimes cases cannot be settled without additional intervention. To ensure privacy and avoid the circus of a public trial, disputes can be resolved via mediation or arbitration with a retired family judge.
In the end, it takes two people to have a positive outcome even in the instance where one party is considered to be at fault for the breakdown.
Regardless of the couples’ net worth, it is always best to reach an agreement amongst yourselves. Better for the parties and their children, and, in a world where social media has taken over, it is indeed better to leave some things private.
Attorney Frederic J. Siegel is a founding member of the Siegel, Colin & Kaufman law firm in Stamford, Connecticut. Serving families throughout Fairfield County and the surrounding communities, Attorney Siegel devotes his practice exclusively to family and matrimonial law and to helping his clients resolve their conflicts and reach agreements regarding all issues associated with divorce, including child custody and support, property division, alimony, and more. Attorney Siegel also has vast experience drafting and negotiating substantial asset pre-nuptial and post-nuptial agreements. Additionally, the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers (AAML) has certified Attorney Siegel as a divorce mediator.
In a career spanning almost forty years, Attorney Siegel has achieved unprecedented success advocating on behalf of the rights and best interests of those he serves, including several high-profile public figures and celebrities as well as those with considerable assets. Widely regarded as a leader in his field, he has written and lectured extensively on a variety of topics related to family law, he served on the adjunct legal faculty at Cardozo School of Law for four years, and he routinely offers in-depth commentary and legal analyses for national print and televised news outlets, including CNN, Good Morning America, CBS, Town and Country Magazine, and many more.
Attorney Frederic J. Siegel can be contacted on 203.326.5145 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org