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5 Key Things in Public Figure and High-Profile Divorces

High-asset divorce can be a simple or difficult process, depending on factors specific to each case. 

Public figures and high-profile individuals frequently have additional interests and concerns when going through the process of a divorce.

Being aware of these uniquely personal aspects is useful for navigating through the process.

1.  Privacy

Family law proceedings are filed in Superior Courts in California, which is a public judicial system. That means the court documents filed in a divorce case are public records accessible by any member of the general public and court hearings are open to the general public, too. This accessibility by the general public does not afford a sense of discretion typically sought by public figures and high-profile individuals. To avoid having all of the hearings and pleadings being aired in public proceedings, parties can agree to have their case resolved by a private judge. Although private judging is an added expense, it provides elements of privacy not available in public court proceedings. Additionally, mediation through a private alternative dispute resolution center, whether with an attorney mediator or a retired judicial officer, involves strict confidentiality rules regarding what is said and done in the mediation process. In this way, mediation can help preserve the privacy of parties.

2. Time

Seemingly, everyone has a busy schedule. No exception are the demanding and rigorous responsibilities of executives, celebrities, public officials, and other high-profile individuals. For the most part, court appearances will require travel to and from one courthouse location. Attending depositions and meetings require additional travel and time commitments. Add to that the amount of time required for responding to pleadings, correspondence, and discovery requests, and time becomes an exceedingly valuable commodity. Best practices involve setting aside and devoting a portion of personal time to spend on addressing these case-specific responsibilities to help avoid feeling inundated or overwhelmed.

3. Sophistication

Understanding the important nuances of these specialized matters requires an advanced level of sophistication for the attorney representing public figures and high-profile individuals. Time in practice and experience with similar matters are meaningful milestones. Other distinctions that signify the caliber of counsel include advanced certifications in the field, such as certification as a family law specialist by the Board of Legal Specialization of the State Bar of California.

4. Teamwork

Effectively and efficiently presenting a complex case often turns on the ability to assemble a team of professionals to work together to prepare for settlement or litigation. In addition to the family law attorney, common professionals on this team include the following: forensic accountants, real estate appraisers, business valuators, intellectual property appraisers, pension actuaries, QDRO specialists, and even luxury car and equine (horse) appraisal experts.

5. Communication

All attorneys have ethical obligations to communicate material changes about the case to the clients. Feeling trust and comfort when communicating with counsel is vital. There will be a lot of correspondence. As the complexity of issues increases, the volume of correspondence increases, too. For this reason, organization is critical. There will be substantial paperwork created throughout the proceeding, as well as disclosure and production of various previously existing documents, records, and materials, too.

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