For many of us, the first time that we heard of family issues affecting government officials started with the philandering of President Clinton. These days, the media feeds us the personal and private affairs of former Congresswoman Katie Hill and former FBI lawyer, Lisa Page, among others. Going through a divorce is a stressful time for anyone who has experienced it. To compound it with media invading the intricate details of your separation only adds to the stress of a high-profile divorce.
Throughout my career, I have represented elected officials and government employees, or their spouses, who worked both for the State of New Jersey and for the federal government. Having had this experience, I understand the heightened concern for certain circumstances often unique to this group of clients. The first is that privacy and confidentiality are of paramount importance. Nobody wants the details of their personal relationships being displayed in the media. Media attention during a divorce, as well as other related legal matters, can be embarrassing. It could also cause one to lose his or her job, either voluntarily or non-voluntarily.
Most importantly, negative media attention can have a severe impact on children. It is not fair to any child to have their family’s business available for all to see and scrutinize. My philosophy in any family law matter is to figure out what is in the best interest of the children. Thus, I strive to protect the children of my clients.
One way to ensure privacy and confidentiality during the divorce process is to mediate or arbitrate, or use the collaborative process, the matter and remain out of the courtroom. Litigating through the court creates a public record and is available for all to see. A reporter, or anyone else who intends to simply be nosy, can access these public records. If the goal is to keep a matter private from the public eye, mediation or arbitration are effective methods. All issues are capable of being mediated. For example, issues that may be eligible for negotiation are custody, parenting time, child support, college contribution, alimony/spousal support, and equitable distribution (the division of property and assets).
The major issues that I tend to come across while representing clients employed by the government involves their income and compensation structure. Most government employees and elected officials do not earn an excessive amount of money in the public office. However, when they leave public office and enter the private sector, there is usually a significant jump in income. The opposite is often true going from the private sector to the public sector. These changes in circumstances can lead to alimony, child support, equitable distribution and other post-judgment issues. Whether I am representing a government official, or spouse of a government official, these financial concerns can be complex. These issues need to be handled with care and creativity.
Consequently, government officials may have divorce and family law concerns unique than that of private citizens. Lawrence Law has the experience to understand these concerns and accomplish our client’s goals.