Alabama residents may be surprised at the $4.5 billion price tag one billionaire was ordered to pay his ex-wife as her share of their marital assets in 2014, but on June 11, a judge reduced that amount to $609 million. Prior to the higher court’s decision, it was believed by her lawyer to have been the largest award ever handed down in a divorce action.
The couple is Russian, and the case is unfolding in Switzerland. Swiss law in general entitles divorcing spouses to an equal share of marital assets. Her attorney plans to take the case to the Federal Supreme Court of Switzerland.
The wife of the Russian oligarch filed for divorce in 2008, a few years after he had put many of his assets into offshore trust funds in Cyprus. He is also the owner of the Monaco Football Club and has property in the United States. He made his money in the fertilizer business, and his wealth has been estimated at $8.5 billion.
High-asset divorces may involve complexities such as multiple properties and international accounts. They might also feature pre- or postnuptial agreements or even efforts to conceal assets. Alabama is an equitable distribution state, and divorce judges are accordingly required to divide marital assets in a manner that they deem fair, but this can also be complex. In addition to the process of determining which assets were acquired prior to marriage and which ones count as marital property, spouses may also be willing to exchange claims on certain assets in return for keeping others pursuant to a settlement agreement that has been negotiated with the assistance of their respective family law attorneys.