Divorce & Financial Disclosure – A Cautionary Tale for Californians

The link below will take you to a fascinating story published last week in Fortune magazine that is also a cautionary tale about the mixing of personal and corporate assets and how they can get tied up as part of a divorce. The article focuses on John Randolph “Bunky” Hearst Jr., a grandson of the legendary California newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst. Though the article focuses on New York (where Bunky lives) the issues it raises can be even more complex in a state like California where divorce is governed by community property laws.

As the article details most of Bunky Hearst’s came from the payments he received as a beneficiary of a family trust that controls the privately-held Hearst media empire (Hearst’s assets include 200 magazines, 16 newspapers, the A&E cable channel and a 20% stake in ESPN). Even by the standards of privately-held companies Hearst is remarkably secretive. Yet, as the article notes, legal maneuvering around Bunky Hearst’s divorce came close to spilling the company’s most closely-held business secrets into the open.

The tale is a fascinating reminder not only of how intrusive and emotionally wrenching a divorce can be, but also of how it can create work-related disruptions with far-reaching consequences.

Stories like this remind us how important a skilled Southern California divorce lawyer is when a marriage is facing dissolution. Protecting your assets is a key part of any Orange County divorce proceeding, but keeping a business’ affairs out of the court spotlight can be equally important – and even more complex. A full-service California family law firm can examine assets at any stage of a marriage, helping ensure that private affairs remain private.

Fortune: Citizen Bunky: A Hearst Family Scandal