Some California couples may have been following the divorce proceedings of Russian billionaire Dmitry Rybolovlev and his ex-wife Elena. After Elena filed for divorce in 2008, a court in Geneva ordered Rybolovlev to pay Elena $4.5 billion as part of the settlement in 2014. According to Elena’s lawyer, the amount was a record-breaking divorce award at the time. Rybolovlev accumulated his wealth in the Russian fertilizer industry, and he owns the Monaco Football Club.
On June 11, Rybolovlev won an appeal of the court’s decision to award his ex-wife half of the fortune that he had built during their marriage. The higher court reduced the divorce award to 565 million Swiss francs, or about $609 million. However, Elena’s lawyer says that he is planning to appeal the decision to the Federal Supreme Court of Switzerland.
According to Swiss law, a spouse in Elena’s position would normally be entitled to receive half of the marital estate after a divorce. The dispute over Rybolovlev’s fortune involves money that was moved into trusts in 2005. Rybolovlev took that action so that he could pass the family’s fortune to future generations. At the time, Rybolovlev did not make his wife a beneficiary of any of the trusts.
When property is being divided in a high asset divorce, disputes often arise over questions of what is marital property and what is separately owned. A person who is worried that their spouse may attempt to prevent marital assets from being divided equally may want to discuss those concerns with a family law attorney.
Source: CNNMoney, “Russian oligarch’s divorce bill cut by $4 billion,” Ivana Kottasova, June 12, 2015