£453m – a record divorce settlement

On behalf of Attwaters Jameson Hill posted on Tuesday, June 13th, 2017

A British woman, 44, has secured a divorce settlement in the High Court of £435m from her 61-year-old husband who had built his £1bn fortune on the Russian energy market. She was awarded 41.5 per cent of the value of the marital assets.

The couple, who were not identified, were married in Moscow in 1993, but have lived in Surrey since then. The wife was originally from eastern Europe, but became a British citizen in 2000. She had been a stay-at-home mother to their now grown-up sons.
 

The judgement

The case was heard in the Family Court before Mr Justice Haddon-Cave. In his judgement, the judge said that the couple, who had been married for over 20 years, had marital assets worth £1bn, and that this wealth had been built up over the course of the marriage through “equal contributions to the welfare of the family, and should be subject to the sharing principle”.

On that basis, the split of assets is approaching 50:50. The wife had originally sought £350m, but because the two parties had failed to agree a settlement, she claimed an additional £93m which was made up of chattels in their English home, an Aston Martin car and a modern art collection. The judge found this figure “justified in all circumstances”.
 

The points to note

The fact that this had been a long marriage meant that the starting point for the division of the marital assets was an equal split. The husband in this case sought to bring into play “special contribution”, based on his phenomenal business success, as a reason to depart from an equal split of the couple’s assets. This decision further reduces the likelihood of the “special contribution” argument succeeding in cases involving super-rich husbands in long marriages who seek to limit the amount they must pay on divorce.

The judgement is viewed in some quarters as another example of the English courts’ generosity to a financially-weaker spouse. It reinforces London’s status as the favoured location to bring divorce claims against super-rich spouses.

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