Highest-ever divorce settlement reduced by $4 billion

Even North Carolina couples facing complex divorces are unlikely to be dividing joint marital assets worth around $8.5 billion, but that is the estimated worth of one billionaire who was ordered to pay his ex-wife $4.5 billion. However, on appeal, a court reduced the amount to $609 million.

The divorce of the Russian couple is being heard in Swiss courts. In 2005, the husband transferred much of his fortune into offshore trusts in Cyprus. His wife is not the beneficiary on those trusts, and in 2008, she filed for divorce. The conflict over her husband’s wealth, which he made in the Russian fertilizer industry, has been going on for seven years, and her attorney plans a further appeal. Under Swiss law, she is entitled to half of the marital assets.

The husband also owns the Monaco Football Club as well as real property in the U.S. However, in July, a divorce claim will be heard in Russia that deals with even larger amounts by the ex-wife of a billionaire who is estimated to be worth $15 billion.

High-asset divorces may have a number of features that those involving couples of more modest means do not, including prenuptial agreements, property in multiple states or even other countries, and complex trust and other financial arrangements. While division of marital assets is generally supposed to be equitable, this actually leaves a great deal of room for negotiation if the couple is willing to do so. However, there may be additional complications if one spouse is attempting to conceal assets or challenge a prenuptial agreement. Whether property division is decided amicably or through litigation, an attorney may be helpful in representing a spouse’s interests.

Source: CNN Money, “Russian oligarch’s divorce bill cut by $4 billion,” Ivana Kottasova, June 12, 2015