3 Tips for Public Figures Facing a High-Profile Divorce
As a public figure, knowing that a divorce is looming can be a daunting thought. One only needs to scroll through any social media feed or read the headlines of tabloid magazines while standing in line at the grocery store to know that a public figure’s divorce is always fodder for negative media attention. All too often, the public can become a bit too eager to pass judgment on one or both spouses once the divorce announcement is made and then feel as if there is some public right to pry into your private matters simply because you are a public figure in their community. It’s surprising to learn who may be interested in seeing information about your assets, your children, and the intimate details of your marriage. I have handled domestic legal matters involving business owners, political figures, professional athletes, and other public figures for over twenty-five years. My experience with these cases enables me to share my top three tips for public figures facing a high-profile divorce:
Protect Yourself Legally
Divorce proceedings can be long, drawn out, and emotionally trying. It is important that you are legally protected from the moment you know a divorce may be on the horizon. For most high-profile clients, it is advisable to get a pre-nuptial agreement before the marriage happens, as that can greatly reduce the need for a public fight over marital assets if a divorce is imminent. However, not every public figure knew they would one day be a high-profile individual when they first married, so when a pre-nuptial doesn’t exist, it’s critical to seek experienced legal counsel at the first signs of marital trouble. Don’t wait until your spouse has already filed for divorce and sets the tone for your case.
The best attorney for this type of case is one who has extensive experience in handling high-profile divorces and understands the unique nuances of such cases. This will usually be an attorney who practices exclusively in family law and is highly credentialed or has been honored by organizations known for their superior standing in family law. You want someone who is familiar with the state laws that will apply to your situation as well as your state’s options for handling family law cases outside of the public eye. Depending on your level of notoriety, you will also want an attorney who is well-connected with the local, regional, and maybe even national media to build the proper public relations strategy your case may require.
Be Prepared for Media Attention
Speaking of building your public relations strategy, when the news hits, you’re going through a high-profile divorce, you can expect that the media will be watching your every move. It’s important to remember that anything you say or do could be picked up by the press, so it’s best to remain composed in public and avoid making any comments about your situation without your attorney or your PR consultant approving the statement. Until after things have settled down, which may not happen until the case is over, it’s always wise simply ignore the bait and say “No comment”, or refer any requests for information directly to your legal team.
You should also anticipate that your personal life may be the topic of conversation on the daily news, gossip tv programs, in magazines, on social media, or even the subject of a podcast. It is important to remember that what you share with friends and family can easily become public knowledge if it gets into the wrong hands so be even more careful who you trust. If you do find yourself facing intense media attention, stay calm and immediately consult with your lawyer before speaking publicly about anything related to the divorce case. What you say in these situations can come back to bite later.
Focus on What You Can Control
It can be easy to feel overwhelmed when dealing with the legal aspects of a high-profile divorce – not only are there complex laws involved with dividing up the life that you’ve worked so hard to build but there is also intense public scrutiny while you work through what should be a very private process. The best way to cope is by focusing on what you can control – such as how you present yourself publicly and how well you take care of yourself – rather than getting caught up in things that are out of your hands, such as court proceedings or how media coverage is being dedicated to your divorce.
For some people, taking an active role in managing these aspects of your divorce can help keep stress levels manageable. If this sounds like you, talk with your legal team early on about things that you can do for them to keep yourself busy and out of the public eye. For others, getting away from the limelight and taking some time off while your legal team handles the day-to-day responsibilities of your case. If this sounds like you, ask your attorney before scheduling your getaway to ensure communications lines stay open and that you’ll be available for any events (hearings or settlement conferences, for example) that need your physical presence to keep the case moving forward.
Going through a high-profile divorce can be incredibly stressful for any public figure – from having intense legal issues to deal with, personal emotions running high, along with constant media attention on top of everything – but by hiring the best legal representation available, being prepared for media attention, and focusing only on what is within your control, you will get through this difficult time successfully.
If you and your spouse are considering divorce, don’t make any decisions about how to proceed before talking with a trusted attorney in your area. Your divorce and any settlement you create will be subject to your state’s divorce laws. Without discussing your situation with an attorney, your agreement may not be what you want or what is beneficial to your future. If you’re in South Carolina, it’s important to contact an experienced family court attorney like J. Benjamin Stevens today to discuss your specific situation. Even if you aren’t in South Carolina, Mr. Stevens is happy to offer referrals to a well-qualified attorney located in your state.
Ben Stevens is a Fellow in the prestigious American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers and the International Academy of Family Lawyers, and he is a Board-Certified Family Trial Advocate by the National Board of Trial Advocacy. If you or someone you know is facing a divorce, separation, child custody, visitation, or other family law case, contact our office at (864) 598-9172 or SCFamilyLaw@offitkurman.com to request a consultation.
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Contact our office at (864) 598-9172 or SCFamilyLaw@offitkurman.com to schedule an initial consultation.
ABOUT J. BENJAMIN STEVENS
Ben.Stevens@offitkurman.com | 864.598.9172
Aggressive, creative, and compassionate are words Ben Stevens' colleagues freely use to describe him as a divorce and family law attorney. Mr. Stevens is a Fellow in the prestigious American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, the International Academy of Family Lawyers, and is a Board Certified Family Trial Advocate by the National Board of Trial Advocacy. He is one of only two attorneys in South Carolina with those simultaneous distinctions. He has held numerous leadership positions in the AAML, and he currently serves as one of its National Vice Presidents. Mr. Stevens has a statewide practice and regularly appears all across South Carolina. His practice is focused on complex divorce and child custody cases.
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