California residents may have heard about what was being called the largest divorce settlement in history. A Russian billionaire had been ordered to pay his wife $4.5 billion, but an appeals court recently reduced the payment to $609 million. The billionaire's attorney said she and her client were satisfied with the ruling, but his wife's attorney said an appeal would be filed.
The case is being heard in Swiss courts, and according to Swiss law, she is entitled to half of her husband's assets. However, in 2005, he had transferred a substantial amount of his money into offshore trusts in Cyprus, and she was not designated as a beneficiary. In 2008, she filed for divorce.
The oligarch, who made his fortune in the fertilizer business, is said to be worth about $8.5 billion in total, and in addition to property in the United States, he owns the Monaco Football Club. However, this is less than the worth of another Russian billionaire whose wife has filed a claim that a court will begin hearing in July in Russia. His assets are worth about $15 million, and he may have to split them with his wife.
High-asset divorces can be complex even when they do not involve billions in assets. Furthermore, California is a community property state, and this may complicate things further. People may think that pre- or postnuptial agreements protect them, but these can be challenged. An attorney may be able to assist a divorcing client in negotiating a property division settlement as well as any issues around support and child custody. In situations where negotiations are not possible, an attorney may also be helpful in protecting a client's rights through litigation.
Source: CNN Money, "Russian oligarch's divorce bill cut by $4 billion," Ivana Kottasova, June 12, 2015