Divorce for People in the Public Eye

Are you a celebrity, politician, or play on a professional sports team — and want to get a divorce? With high profile and celebrity divorce news dominating headlines these days, it’s trickier than ever for people in the public eye to keep divorce matters private. Unless, of course, you have the right lawyer on your side.

What makes some attorneys more capable than others at handling the complex needs of high-profile or celebrity clientele? Here are some qualities we think are important:

1. Experience: It should go without saying, but divorce is not the time to hire your tax attorney best friend out a sense of loyalty. Ever notice that in Hollywood, celebrities seem to seek out the same handful of divorce attorneys and law firms? When you need someone to negotiate high net worth divorce settlements and complex divorce related issues — and on top of this — deal with the prying press, you simply don’t want an attorney who is new to the game. No one in Hollywood uses the new kid on the block and the same rule applies here in New Jersey.

2. Mediation Expert: Ever wonder how some well-known or famous people manage to keep certain details about their divorce from being made public? It’s because they opt to mediate divorce privately rather than go through the very public ordeal of court litigation. Private divorce mediation is a completely confidential process that can address all issues involved in divorce, including child custody, child support, asset division, and alimony.

3. Writes & Enforces Prenuptial Agreements: Preparing a prenuptial agreement prior to marriage is an effective way to protect your financial interests. In the event of a divorce, a “prenup” generally protects your premarital assets and, depending on its language, ensures that your property is exempt from equitable distribution. You want a lawyer who understands how to write prenuptial agreements that are fair (and still cover all the bases). In the event of a divorce, what’s better? Having this critical document interpreted by an experienced attorney or someone whose only experience in this area was in law school?

4. Asset Protection Expert: Because New Jersey is an equitable distribution state, as a general rule, if the asset is earned during the marriage (and is not covered under by a prenuptial agreement), it becomes a marital asset subject to division. For high net worth couples, you need an attorney who is capable of analyzing sizable asset portfolios, including real estate holdings, royalties and job bonuses, stock portfolios and stock options, offshore bank accounts, and business ownerships.

5. Understands Complex Child Custody Issues: Do you or your former spouse plan to move to a different state or out of the country after your high-profile divorce is final? In order for a child to be relocated out of the state, in most cases, the moving parent must obtain the other parent’s consent. If there is no such consent, then a court order will be required to authorize the relocation. But who wants to put their child in the middle of a parenting tug-o-war, especially if it might result in plastering your child’s photo on the TV news? You need a lawyer skilled at coming up with creative and fair solutions to complex child custody issues.

6. Up-to-Date on Case Law: Family law in New Jersey constantly changes as new court decisions and new legislative rules change how the law is interpreted. Your attorney should well-versed in current New Jersey family law, especially as it applies to high net worth cases. Are they reading the latest volume of the New Jersey Family Law Practice? Are they up-to-date on proposed alimony and spousal support rule changes? Do they have and what are their certifications? If your divorce is in New Jersey, know that only a very few are New Jersey Supreme Court Certified Matrimonial Law Attorneys. If you answered no to any of these questions then consider it a red flag that you should look elsewhere for representation.

At Weinberger Divorce & Family Law Group, we frequently represent celebrities, politicians, sports figures, and other public figures in their family law matters. Our founding partner, Bari Weinberger has personally represented $100+ million net worth clients, athletes, celebrities, musicians, and local and nationally recognized political figures. Can we be of help to you? For an absolutely confidential consultation, please call us (973) 520-8822.