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Why is privacy important in a high asset divorce in New York?

New York City is famous for being home to some of the biggest names in the field of politics, business, sports and entertainment. Naturally, New York City is the place where many high net-worth individuals are born and bred, where they live and marry and where they divorce. Therefore, the city and its residents are not unfamiliar with high asset divorce cases.

Sadly, although divorces are an extremely private affair, many high net-worth individuals are not able to keep their separation under wraps because of the many thousands of prying eyes that are always on their toes to collect the latest celebrity gossip, and as a result marital discord becomes public. A breach of privacy can have its effects on high-profile couples and their family, as well as their reputation and legacy. In most cases, the effects are not so pleasant.

Considering that such breaches of privacy are rampant, the laws in New York mandate that only the parties involved in the lawsuit and their attorneys are granted access to divorce documents. That is a difficult task, however, because a thriving gossip market encourages the leak of familial secrets. But, although not easy, with an in-depth understanding of laws in the state, it may be possible to prevent such leaks.

Due to this situation, many high asset divorces are now settled behind closed doors through mediation and arbitration instead of going to trial, where the chances of public disclosure, warranted or unwarranted, is significantly higher. Interestingly, many judges recommend that the parties settle divorce legal issues, such as property division and support obligations, behind closed doors instead of in a courtroom.

Thus, it may be concluded that when a high net-worth individual contemplates divorce, it may be a wise decision for that individual to understand the privacy laws in New York. However, in spite of the best efforts, high asset divorce cases are rarely unknown to the public.

Source: Forbes, "Protecting Privacy in a Divorce," Russ Alan Prince, Dec. 8, 2014

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