Over the past decade our television screens and our newspapers have been littered with the news of numerous celebrity marriages falling apart in the public eye. The American star Britney Spears divorced Kevin Federline in 2007 amongst a media frenzy and very public examination of the psychological difficulties the marriage breakdown was causing Spears. Reportedly Spears settled the divorce with Federline agreeing to monthly payments of £26,000. In 2008 Paul McCartney and Heather Mills divorce was settled for £24.3 million and in the same year Madonna and Guy Ritchie’s divorce was finalised awarding Ritchie approximately £50-£60 million. But what can we learn from these extremely expensive and public divorces?
First of all, forward planning would have been beneficial to all of these couples. Although a prenuptial agreement can seem like an omen predicting the failure of a marriage, it can seriously ease the stress of a divorce settlement and prevent a lengthy public court battle. This is a piece of legal paperwork which does not only need to apply to the famous. It may be an advisable consideration for you if you have considerable assets or would wish to keep your divorce short and sweet to protect your business reputation. Prenuptial agreements have been popular in America for years, and are now being increasingly drafted for UK couples as well. McCartney has not heeded this advice though, an unexpected decision given the stress of his previous divorce, and he has not drafted a pre-nup with his new wife. McCartney did not have a prenuptial agreement made with Heather Mills and this may have made this divorce more difficult than it would have otherwise been.
The second important learning curve is regarding the nature of the settlements. All these couples could have avoided having their private business reported in the national newspapers to an extent if they had opted for a form of divorce settlement other than traditional litigation. Individuals involved in high profile divorce cases are opting for mediation or arbitration over taking their divorce to the courts. Both these forms of divorce settlement are less invasive than court settlement. To add to this, arbitration has the added bonus of confidentiality.
Katie Holmes and Tom Cruise’s recent divorce has illustrated how a high profile can be conducted without high levels of stress. Their divorce was settled privately in only 11 days, following negotiations between the pair with their lawyers and with reference to a prenuptial agreement. Cruise reported wanted to avoid a high profile court case, knowledge of his private bank accounts in the press and bad publicity for church of scientology. We should all learn from Tom and Katie as not only did they do draw their divorce negotiations out over months, did not allow a public examination of their divorce settlement but they also put their daughter Suri first throughout their marriage breakdown stating
“We are committed to working together as parents to accomplish what is in our daughter Suri’s best interests. We want to keep matters affecting our family private, and express our respect for each other’s commitment to each of our respective beliefs, and support each other’s roles as parents.”
Supporting your children is vital when they are dealing with the stress of their parents separation and this is an important thing to constantly remind yourself of.