Celebrity Separations and the Media – In the Public Interest or Interesting to the Public?
Increasingly, high-profile couples are choosing to find methods for resolving separation issues which avoid Court proceedings and the media attention that often surrounds them – whether that is in relation to child arrangements as is the case for Joe Jonas and Sophie Turner, or matrimonial finances like Noel Gallagher and Sara MacDonald. One doesn’t have to look far back to be reminded of how unattractive the alternative of a very public separation looks.
When celebrity couple Sophie Turner and Joe Jonas announced they were divorcing after four years of marriage they attracted much media attention. The separation quickly became contentious after Sophie Turner issued proceedings in which it was argued that Joe Jonas had wrongfully retained their daughters in the US when they should have been returned to the UK, where Turner claims they were habitually resident.
Despite this, an out of court agreement was reached with the assistance of Mediators and thereafter an Order was drafted by the parties’ lawyers and filed with the Court. The Child Arrangements Order confirmed that their children would spend time in both the US and the UK with both parents.
The Gallagher divorce looked as though it would play out in public but has also been resolved behind closed doors with solicitor led negotiations. An Order will be drawn up by lawyers without the need to go to Court.
These are high-profile examples of what can be achieved where legal advice is taken without delay and alternative methods of dispute resolution are accessed and engaged with constructively.
Though Turner made an application to Court, an agreement was reached in mediation very soon after which seemingly allowed for an outcome that both parties had a say in and which, most importantly, will enable the children to spend time with both parents.
Instructing a solicitor does not always have to be a contentious step. Expedient legal advice will inform parties of their position so far as the law is concerned and can help direct them to alternative forum to resolve areas of disagreement. Crucially, early legal advice can also narrow the issues in dispute which can help to prevent acrimony and the unnecessary escalation of costs. This is very often in the best interests of children as this can negate the need for long, drawn out litigation and often leads to an outcome which both parties and the children are better able to live with.
Mediation involves engaging a neutral third party who is an expert at facilitating open conversations, exploring concerns, and ultimately guiding parties to reach an agreement. It is a private process conducted behind closed doors which was, perhaps a large part of the draw for Jonas and Turner. It can also help avoid the need for an outcome to be imposed on parties by a judge and which may preserve a relationship between them sufficiently intact to allow them to co-parent for many years to come. Mediators will often suggest that parties take legal advice in between sessions on certain points.
The Court can be invited to approve these agreements. In financial matters, once ratified by the Court, a Consent Order is binding and provides parties with a formal document which is enforceable, and which can be relied upon in the future. In cases concerning children, a Child Arrangements Order. This will be particularly important where there are alternative international jurisdictions to contend with, and mirror orders can be put in place to secure the agreement in both relevant countries – in this case England and USA.
Where out of court agreement cannot be reached, high-profile couples will often seek settlement through private arbitration – again, to avoid media scrutiny. After all, it really is no one else’s business how they separate.
Taylor Walton’s Family solicitors are skilled at advising in relation to separation and child arrangements both within and outside of Court proceedings and frequently advise clients while they engage in the mediation process, facilitate negotiations and, as members of resolution, look for non-adversarial approaches where possible.
Disclaimer: General Information Provided Only
Please note that the contents of this article are intended solely for general information purposes and should not be considered as legal advice. We cannot be held responsible for any loss resulting from actions or inactions taken based on this article.
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