OUR SERVICESComplex Divorce

The stress of divorce can be exacerbated by media attention, intrusions by strangers into very personal matters, and negative publicity.  Since those under media scrutiny and their families are particularly vulnerable during the divorce process, discretion and capable guidance are crucial.

Most highly visible individuals, public figures, celebrities and politicians settle their divorces outside of court because courts are public forums.  That means the hearings and records are public.  Damaging allegations about personal and business matters may surface during divorce litigation.  If a matter is litigated, absent a protective order, documents concerning confidential personal, financial and business matters may be accessible to competitors, business contacts, colleagues, employees, friends, family, and the public.

Both the New Hampshire Constitution and the United States Constitution guarantee the public a right of access to the courts.  This means that, except in a few limited circumstances, any member of the public can attend hearings and review court files.  It is, therefore, important to minimize what is in the file and seal it, if possible.  This right of access is intended to ensure a fair, unbiased and trustworthy justice system.  Unfortunately, however, it can result in unwelcome intrusion, negative publicity, and scrutiny of divorcing public figures.

Confidentiality agreements, protective orders and requests to seal files are means to protect sensitive information from public view during the divorce process.  Counsel can request a protective order, including an order to seal the divorce file, or parts of the file, and protect the file from public inspection.  The court may exercise its discretion to seal all the file, some of it or none of it.

Most public figures resolve their divorces through a private and confidential dispute resolution process, specifically negotiation, mediation, collaborative process or arbitration.  When the parties and attorneys agree upon such a process at the outset of a case, a divorce can be handled from start to finish outside of the court system.  The public has no right of access to such a process.  The proceedings are private, confidential and often less hostile.  The personal and business information exchanged remains confidential.  If the parties are motivated and responsive, these processes are often much faster than litigation.  When a case is resolved through alternative dispute resolution, only the required documents, devoid of allegations and harmful content, are available in the public file.