As a marital and family law attorney in South Florida, I handle many divorce cases involving individuals who hold significant financial wealth. Protecting my clients’ assets is my primary concern in negotiating a contentious divorce. I have created some tips for attorneys who are managing high net worth divorce situations to help them reach positive outcomes and allow both parties to move on with their lives as quickly and painlessly as possible.
1. A sound prenuptial agreement is the first step in preventing a messy divorce. Advise clients to consider building reasonable prenuptial agreements that provide a substantial enough monetary provision to discourage further litigation.
2. Make sure clients consider the implications of a lengthy divorce case. In many states, the proceedings from a divorce might become public record even if they are initially sealed. If your client possesses hidden assets, or if the process of forensic accounting will uncover some potentially questionable business practices, then a quick settlement might be advisable. Encourage each client to examine the risks and rewards of settling versus becoming involved in a case that could create long-term damage for his or her reputation.
3. For high net worth individuals who also attract substantial attention, a divorce case can be an appealing story for tabloid-style media. Especially when children are involved, the public sentiment generated by media reports will very likely not be favorable for your wealthy client. Work with your client and his or her assistants to minimize media exposure from the beginning in every feasible way.
About the author: as a Partner at Fort Lauderdale, Florida-based Gladstone & Weissman, P.A., Jeff Weissman is a member of the Family Law Section and the Executive Council of the Florida Bar.