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Divorce settlement reaches record highs

A Switzerland-based Russian billionaire and his wife made headlines around the world last week when a court issued a $4.9 billion judgment in favour of the wife, but there are a number of similarities between their divorce and those of many in Calgary.

Just like in this $4.9 billion divorce settlement, when Calgarians divorce they need to work with their lawyers and financial advisors to make sense of complex divisions of their marital assets. It is rarely as easy as saying that each spouse gets half, and finding agreement on values is often the biggest challenge. Assets like cars and household furniture, businesses, stock portfolios, deferred incentive plans, pensions, etc., require careful scrutiny and often the involvement of an expert to determine value.

The Swiss court that issued the divorce judgment ordered billionaire Dmitry Rybolovlev to pay his wife, Elena Rybolovleva, more than 4 billion Swiss francs, which is equal to roughly $4.9 billion (CDN). Ms. Rybolovleva also received nearly $160 million in property, as well as two other pieces of unvalued property.

This divorce settlement, which can still be appealed, is  labeled as the most expensive divorce in history.

Though there aren't many people in Calgary with this kind of money, the concerns that this billionaire and his former wife had as they went through their divorce are likely similar to those of many of the couples divorcing here.

Although it is a little late for Mr. Rybolovlev, a Pre-Nuptial Agreement is a very useful and cost effective tool to preserve one's property in the event of marriage break-down.

Source: Calgary Herald, "Russian tycoon ordered to pay $4.5 billion to ex-wife in what would be most expensive divorce in history," John Heilprin, May 19, 2014

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