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Most Expensive Divorce in History
May 20, 2014
The Huffington Post (a great source of material for a divorce law blogger!) today reported on the “The Most Expensive Divorce in History.” According the story, a Swiss court ordered a Russian billionaire, Dmitry Rybolovlev to pay more than $4.5 billion to his ex-wife, Elena, in what “could become the biggest divorce settlement in history.” The article also reported that Elena was awarded $146 million in property in Gstaad, Switzerland, where the couple owned two “swanky chalets,” and two other pieces of real estate “in the ultra-wealthy area of Geneva known as Cologny.”
Besides the amount involved, the following of note can be gleaned from the article:
- The matter was litigated, as opposed to being settled
- Both sides seem to claim victory
- Notwithstanding the above, there is apparently going to be an appeal (it’s not clear, but it seems by Elena).
I’ve been fortunate to have handled a few cases with extremely large estates, although none approaching the net estate of this case (which is why none were the basis of a newspaper story), my experience is that large cases are generally easier to settle than smaller ones. There are several reasons.
For one, both sides have a lot to lose. Fear can do wonders to promote compromise.
Second, both parties usually have a certain amount of sophistication and experience in dealing with lawyers. The result is that they typically will listen to their lawyers who, if they are professional, will recommend compromise and settlement.
And third, there is plenty to trade. Absent assets, there is little put on the bargaining table. In substantial estates, there are cards to play.
Give these three factors, there is no excuse for these cases being litigated. Even it does make a great story for the Huffington Post.