Real Housewives of New York City star Bethenny Frankel’s divorce from Jason Hoppy has been tabloid fodder for several years now. A recent Radar Online article (click here) happily splashed the exact amount of attorney fess Frankel must pay to Hoppy ($100,000) across their headlines.
We as a society are happy consumers of reality television, in part because it is a way for us to escape our own lives by getting invested in the lives of those very different from us. And while many aspect of the Housewives culture are indeed far removed from our own reality, many people may not realize that the circumstances of Frankel’s divorce are actually a lot closer to home than we may expect.
It is not only in New York that divorce (and all the mess and figures that go with it) is a matter of public record. If you go through the litigation process in Michigan, anyone can look up your case and for a small fee, obtain all of the documents filed with the court– complete strangers can gain full access to the exact amount of spousal support you pay every month, or how much time you spend with your children.
A way to circumvent this is through the use of the Collaborative Divorce Process (CDP). In CDP, we often negotiate Confidential Settlement Agreements which are signed by all parties before anything is ever filed with the court, protecting the couple’s privacy. Then the Consent Judgment of Divorce which is mandated by the courts and becomes part of the public record, only references the Confidential Settlement Agreement but does not give precise figures and details for the world to see.
If you think that the figures for attorney fees in Frankel’s divorce are an outrageous anomaly, only realistic for the wealthy New York elites and Hollywood, you could be in for a rude awakening. There are many litigating attorneys in our area who charge $50,000 plus retainers. When preparing for a trial, that in likelihood will not happen (less than 2% of all divorce cases go to trial), the hourly charges add up very quickly and attorney fees can quickly spiral out of control.
Many people think the Collaborative Divorce Process is more expensive because of the involvement of a team of professionals (click here to learn more), it actually ends up costing less and being more efficient in many cases, as the focus is always on settlement, rather than a trial which will most likely never happen. Furthermore, each professional can address the specific issues in which they are experts at resolution, rather than turning emotional issues into legal ones, and racking up fees for an ineffective approach.
While the realities of Bethenny Frankel’s divorce may not be far removed for us right here in Michigan, getting educated and choosing the process for divorce that is right for you can make a big difference in your outcomes and those of your children. Please visit our Options for Your Future page (can be found by clicking here) to learn more.