Lessons From Tom Brady And Gisele Bündchen


Contributing author: Morgan Fraser Mouchette and Kristina Royce

In October 2022, NFL quarterback Tom Brady and supermodel Gisele Bündchen, his wife, made an announcement to the world: “In recent days, my wife and I have finalized our divorce from one another after 13 years of marriage,” Tom shared on his Instagram account, with Gisele’s statement echoing back: “With much gratitude for our time together, Tom and I have amicably finalized our divorce.” Their careful wording made it clear that the divorce settlement was worked out well before the news of their marriage ending was confirmed to the press, meaning that the power couple had pulled off a quick and quiet divorce out of the public eye. (A rare feat, especially with certain celebrity couples doing the exact opposite these days.) Their perfectly executed approach is one we steer many clients toward today, whether they’re in Hollywood or the Big Apple. There is an appreciation for the privacy and resolution a divorce like this one yields, especially when children are involved. It was handled strategically and purposefully, and out of the courtroom — a “model” for how any couple can work together to achieve similar results.

Here’s how to tackle your divorce like Tom and Gisele.

Ensure Plans Are In Place

When they wed in 2009, the Bradys reportedly had prenuptial agreements (“prenups”) in place protecting their separate business entities and premarital assets. These wouldn’t be standard prenups, either – their lawyers’ aim would have been extremely thorough in preparing agreements to protect each party’s significant net worth and account for numerous successful ventures that were likely anticipated to continue to make money over the course of the marriage. At the time of their divorce, Tom’s worth was estimated at $250 million, while Gisele, who was the world’s highest-paid supermodel for 14 consecutive years, was worth $400 million. The couple’s only major shared asset appears to be the vast property portfolio acquired during their marriage—with properties in New York, Florida, California, and even Puerto Rico—which was reportedly divided in their settlement through the aid of a mediator. Interestingly, reports also claim that Gisele had updated her prenup in June of this year, mere months before the divorce was filed. This is perfectly legal. In fact, revisiting a prenup is highly encouraged, regardless of your net worth or the current state of your marriage. Marital agreements should change as your circumstances change in order to best reflect and account for your needs and contributions.

Preserve Privacy Through Mediation

This divorce remained private even though the couple is no stranger to the headlines. Not even the press knew any divorce details for sure until the divorce was already completed, and Tom and Gisele’s mediator should be credited for that. Because mediation is a more private venue than the court system, we encourage everyone to consider it during divorce. Not only can it save you money and time in the long run, but it will also allow you to preserve your privacy. Public proceedings are hard to control and can potentially reveal sensitive information or even create risks down the line. It’s not only A-list stars or high-level CEOs who would rather not see their financial history and details laid out in public court documents! Tom and Gisele avoided unnecessary public filings by seeking mediation to settle both their financial matters and their custody arrangements, which we’ll discuss in more detail below. As a result, theirs was seemingly a cordial and streamlined settlement. They may have even had a requirement baked into their prenup enforcing the route of mediation in the event of a separation. With the backlog in courts today, the use of private judges, mediation, and litigation has become an extremely appealing strategy for those who can access it. In California, we often work with clients who opt to use a private judge (who in some cases can also act as a mediator) which helps avoid the lengthy delays of court proceedings while allowing for more privacy during settlement talks. In New York, many families use mediators to resolve their divorces; however, private judges and arbitrations are a bit more complex, which goes to show the attention that should be paid to each legal avenue in an individual’s jurisdiction. Even if you are not on the best terms with your ex-partner, a mindset of mediation is something that you should strive for to dissolve your union quickly, quietly, and in a way that reflects both parties’ interests.

Always Put the Kids First

Despite the personal differences that led to their divorce, Tom and Gisele should be commended for their ability to set these differences aside and focus on what’s best for their children moving forward. The couple ultimately agreed upon joint custody, settling their co-parenting arrangement via a mediator as described above. By successfully reaching a private settlement, Tom and Gisele significantly reduced the burden and strain on their children, who may have otherwise been dragged into messy legal proceedings while trying to cope with the already significant stress of divorce. Their ability to cooperate through mediation helped shield the kids from court appearances and questioning, as well as from the public eye, which we know is not always kind. With their kids at an age old enough to understand the divorce and subsequent media attention, and their classmates and friends likely aware of it as well, the amicable front presented by Tom and Gisele has buffered the extent and severity of the gossip in the press.

A tremendous amount of work goes into an agreement around custody and co-parenting—issues like child support, schooling, and navigating the holidays—which is why couples, famous or not, can get bogged down in court proceedings and litigation. Tom and Gisele modeled how planning and cooperation can go a long way when seeking a swift and smooth divorce. They may have been working with a parenting coordinator, a trained professional who helps clients iron out all the details pertaining to children’s health, education, financials, and visitation in divorce and after. Having these conversations with a neutral third party can help move the process along and avoid a lengthy and drawn-out legal battle.

Tom and Gisele filed their divorce in Florida, and while each state has its own rules, their strategic approach can benefit anyone seeking to settle their divorce cleanly and with discretion. In California, for example, taking the steps to complete the entire divorce agreement before filing helps ensure that the legal judgment can be finalized after the jurisdiction’s required six-month period with no delay. Those in New York can make out even better with no waiting period between their filing and the official sign-off by a judge.

When you’re facing one of life’s toughest personal obstacles and navigating an emotionally charged time with a lot at stake, having a “game plan” that matches the goals and tone of the relationship you hope to maintain when your divorce is over will help everyone come out ahead.

Morgan Fraser Mouchette, Partner in the New York City office of Blank Rome, handles complex matrimonial matters for high-net-worth and high-profile clients. She provides individuals and families with tailored and strategic support to navigate and move on from life’s most difficult outcomes, including divorce.

Kristina Royce, Partner and Co-Chair of the Matrimonial And Family Law Practice Group in the Los Angeles office of Blank Rome, regularly advises distinguished individuals on complex financial and custody matters. She is well respected for her steadfast discretion and unique solutions, providing successful outcomes for high-stake cases.

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