This story first appeared in the May 9 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.
Entertainment executives have an almost unfair advantage when it comes to getting divorced. Turns out the skills necessary to manage a studio, run a film company or rise at a talent agency — collaborating with others, creating and following schedules, setting budgets and (almost) sticking to them — are the same ones necessary to manage the divorce process. Many Hollywood execs also have an uncanny ability to compartmentalize — their time, their energy, their emotions — and see the big picture rather than focusing on minutiae. That can come in handy, too, when a marriage is falling apart. So, how to get through the unpleasant process without losing the house in Malibu, the private jet and your mind? Below are five tips for diminishing the pain.
TIP 1: Talk before you leap. There’s plenty of time for icy silence after you get married, but before you take that walk down the aisle, discuss your issues. Open and honest conversations about how you will live your lives (Santa Monica or Laurel Canyon?), raise your children (Crossroads or Harvard-Westlake?) and manage your finances (Cayman Islands or Switzerland?) can avoid problems down the road.
TIP 2: Consider a prenup. Paul McCartney famously waved away the idea before marrying Heather Mills, and look where it got him. But even talking about a prenuptial agreement can be helpful. The discussion can raise strong feelings that will be better managed in the future if brought out in the open in the present (preferably during lunch at E. Baldi or some other safely public place). I’ve seen the mere mention of a prenup wreck an engagement. But it’s so much better to know you’re incompatible before saying “I do” than after.
TIP 3: Spend less than when you were a bachelor or bachelorette. Remember, how you live during marriage — and the assets you acquire — will affect the complexity and cost of your divorce. Spend more on your lifestyle, and the support numbers will increase. Fly on private jets for family outings to film festivals, and your spouse will want money to continue to do so.
TIP 4: Keep an eye on the future. If you are working on a film that’s a couple of years from opening in theaters, keep clear records about what’s being spent on what. It’ll help you maximize your separate property after your tentpole finally opens with $50 million.
TIP 5: You don’t want anybody blabbing about the plot secrets of your next screenplay, so consider the benefits of confidentiality agreements. Some information should remain private after a divorce, and I don’t just mean that thing that happened in Palm Springs. Secrets can be highly valuable assets. Protect them.