Billionaire’s divorce settlement cut by almost $4 billion

Pennsylvania couples whose marriages are ending may be interested in hearing that on June 11, a court in Switzerland overturned an earlier decision regarding what may have been the largest divorce settlement in history. The appellate court ruled that a Russian billionaire would only have to pay his ex-wife $609 million rather than the $4.5 billion originally ordered.

The case has been dragging on for seven years. The billionaire’s assets include offshore trusts in Cyprus that had been established in 2005, ownership of the Monaco Football club and property in the United States including an oceanfront home that had been purchased for $95 million in 2008, the same year his wife filed for divorce.

The billionaire’s lawyer reports that the man is satisfied with the decision. However, under Swiss law, a spouse is normally entitled to one-half of the assets accumulated by the couple during their marriage. Her attorney plans to appeal the decision to the country’s highest court. Regardless of the final ruling, the size of the settlement may be eclipsed by another case coming up in Russia in July. That one involves a billionaire with assets worth $15 million.

Even in divorces that do not involve international assets and enormous wealth, property division may still be a contentious issue. Although Pennsylvania is not a community property state, the division of marital property is still supposed to be equitable. However, this does not necessarily mean that everything is split equally, but merely in a manner that the court deems to be fair. In order to avoid what could be an arbitrary result, a spouse going through a divorce may wish to obtain the assistance of a family law attorney in attempting to reach a negotiated settlement that would cover the key issues.

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

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