Recently, Bill and Melinda Gates made headlines as they filed for divorce after 27 years of marriage. As one of the founders of Microsoft, Bill Gate’s net worth is estimated to be $130 billion, and many are curious about the division of assets and what we can learn from this. After all, the Bezos and Scott divorce resulted in a $137 billion fortune being divided up in 2019, with Scott receiving an Amazon stake valued at $38 billion.
The decision to get divorced is typically years in the making, but the hard work begins once the decision is made. This is amplified when it comes to high-profile cases. As a family law attorney with over 25 years of experience, including working on the notable Elin Nordegren case against Tiger Woods, I have seen firsthand the spread of false information through well-connected social circles, digital media, and other means. Here are three things you should consider as you contemplate divorce:
When communicating about your divorce in public, remember that the public is not the place to defend your relationship or actions. The court of public opinion should not be where you try to get support. Words can be taken out of context, emotions can erupt, and people who you don’t know can come out in attack mode. Maintaining control of the details of your divorce proceedings when speaking in public will help protect those you love and keep those you don’t at a safe distance.
Keep your divorce professional and focused. Divorce is deeply personal, and one of the best things you can do for yourself is to make it your business to understand the process. Knowing what is coming, the legal proceedings, and timing gives you more of a sense of control and understanding. This will help minimize the emotions and confusion you will understandably have throughout the process and keep you on track.
Preparation is Key
Have an honest conversation about reaching a settlement agreement before the announcement. Though the circumstances surrounding Melinda and Bill Gates and MacKenzie and Jeff Bezos divorces are not the norm, agreements were made before the divorce announcement, cutting down the speculation of the division of assets. You don’t have to be billionaires to follow the same process. A prenup may be used as a guide, but the fastest way to come to an agreement is to avoid hard-bargaining tactics. This is not a zero-sum game. Tactics that are specifically used to injure only increase conflict and extend the divorce proceeding. Often, the spouses can work on an agreement quietly. The process, though difficult, can go quickly in the absence of external influences and emotion-based actions.
Divorce is difficult. External influences, heightened emotions, and unrealistic expectations only promote negativity. It is important to fully embrace that this is a transition and it is possible to get through it with your pride, dignity, and an outlook towards a brighter future.