Divorcing couples who have high-assets – a high net worth divorce – are exposed to considerable risk if they litigate their divorce. Divorce proceedings are part of the public record: that means observers, including the press, are allowed in the courtroom. While you can petition the court to have your divorce filed under the caption of “Anonymous v. Anonymous,” your identity isn’t protected when you actually have to show up in court.

Sadly, news headlines often broadcast the private pains and scandals of many celebrities, high net worth divorcing couples and public figures:

  • Rudy Giuliani and wife Judith Nathan ripped by judge for making divorce trial ‘unpleasant’: NY Daily News

We loiter in winter when it is already spring. 

– Henry David Thoreau

Navigating a divorce is not easy and I’m not going to try and convince you otherwise. But I will tell you that where you choose to place your focus can have a real impact on your well-being during this difficult time.

In our last blog post, we explained what each member of the collaborative divorce team does, However, because collaborative divorce is relatively new when compared to traditional, litigated divorce and mediation, there are some misconceptions and myths about how the process works and whether choosing a collaborative divorce is a smart decision.

Here are some common myths about collaborative divorce – and the real facts!

1. My legal interests aren’t protected unless I go to court. 

Many people who are familiar with traditional divorce may not understand when you say you are considering a collaborative divorce. One aspect of the process that sets it apart from others is the fact that it enlists a team of specialized professionals who can help you navigate the many decisions that need to be made as you end your marriage.

A collaborative divorce team of professionals may include:

  • Collaborative Divorce Lawyers:

On January 1, 2019, I became the new President of the New York Association of Collaborative Professionals (NYACP). In this blog, I reflect back on my journey to becoming a collaborative attorney and look toward my goals as President of the leading organization of collaborative divorce professionals in the New York metropolitan area. 

The fact that I’m taking on this new role in 2019 means a lot to me. Exactly 10 years ago, my 2009 New Year’s resolution was that I would stop taking new litigated divorce cases and I would work, instead, with clients who were committed to resolving their family law matters outside of court. 

Ironically, when I was in law school I thought I wanted to be a litigator. I also knew that I wanted to work with people as opposed to corporations. My parents had a difficult marriage and divorced when I was in college, which led me to be fascinated by family dynamics. I naturally gravitated toward family law classes in law school. 

Recent headlines announced that Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos’ 25-year marriage is ending. He and his wife are the wealthiest couple in the world with a net worth of approximately $137 billion, and reportedly never signed a prenup. It’s also reported that when pop star Justin Bieber married model Hailey Baldwin in New York City last fall, they decided to forgo a prenuptial agreement as well. He’s reportedly worth more than $265 million, while her net worth is several million dollars.

We understand Jeff and Mackenzie Bezos are planning to divorce in a non-adversarial and collaborative manner, which is great news for them personally, as well as their four children. If Justin and Hailey ever divorce, we certainly hope they take the same route.

High net worth individuals, not just celebrities, often have complicated assets to value and distribute in the event of their divorces, including, businesses, complicated deferred compensation packages, private investments, assets held in trust, artworks, and more. By entering into a prenuptial agreement before marriage, couples have a contractual opportunity to discuss their assets and finances before the wedding and determine what will happen in the case of death or divorce.

If you’re considering divorce, one of your many decisions will be what kind of divorce is best for you. There are three main types of divorce:

Collaboration

Collaborative divorce helps divorcing couples come to a mutually agreed upon, negotiated settlement without the threat of court. It offers a civilized, solutions-based approach to ending a relationship. Based upon consideration and respect, collaborative divorce also keeps a divorcing or separating couple in control of the process—rather than giving that control over to a judge.

Recent headlines in newspapers, magazines and on television proclaim that millennials are causing lower divorce rates than previous generations, in large part because of what they have seen in their own parents’ divorces and how divorce has traditionally been portrayed in the media.

Millennials are Causing the US Divorce Rate to Plummet – CBS News

You Can Thank Millennials for the Declining Divorce Rate, Study Says – Huffington Post

Today almost half of all births in the United States occur outside of marriage. This is the new normal but the law hasn’t necessarily caught up. Laws vary by state on parental rights for non-married parents. In New York, biological parents do not have automatic parental rights or obligations to their children, including child support and child custody, or the right to make important decisions about the child’s future such as education, health care and religion. Parents either have to agree on these issues, or a court will do it for them.

Healthy co-parenting that stems from thoughtful agreements you’ve made together is in the best interests of your child and makes both the parents and the child feel secure. If you have a child and are not legally married to the other biological parent, you need legal protection to clearly define each parent’s rights and responsibilities.

A well-written parenting and child support agreement is a roadmap of how you will raise and support your child together while living in separate homes and will help you avoid costly, stressful and time-consuming litigation.

A divorce coach is often a vital, but perhaps lesser known, member of the team you will be putting together as you move forward with your divorce. I recommend divorce coaches in all my cases because they help my clients get clear on their goals and concerns, communicate more effectively, advocate for themselves more productively, and not get trapped in the same dysfunctional patterns of behavior with their spouse that was ever-present during their marriage.

Divorce coaches help people to get through their divorce process. Divorce coaching is not therapy or counseling, it is support and guidance for someone going through divorce so they can make better decisions instead of emotional decisions:

  • communicate more effectively with your spouse and attorney