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High asset divorce settlement reduced in foreign court

Some Texas couples may deal with significant financial issues in case of divorce, but the settlement issued in the divorce of a Russian oligarch and his ex-wife involves billions of dollars. However, the matter is still in flux due to a Swiss court overturning the original amount set by a Geneva court. The ex-wife intends to appeal the decision to Switzerland's highest court.

The initial settlement was more than $4 billion, and the most recent change has reduced that amount to $609 million. Switzerland's law indicates that assets acquired during a marriage should be divided equally between divorcing spouses, similar to community property laws affecting Texas residents. However, the establishment of trusts during the couple's marriage, touted by the husband as a means of preserving assets for future generations, has placed some of the community assets in a potentially protected position.

Texas residents could deal with similar issues in case of divorce. Certain types of trusts may allow assets to be safeguarded, and legal assistance may be important in determining how any joint assets included in such trusts, especially irrevocable trusts, should be treated in the event of a divorce. Additional issues that could affect equal distribution of assets under the state's community property laws include prenuptial agreements. Similarly, certain gifts, inheritances, and legal awards might be omitted from consideration during a divorce settlement.

Because asset division can be difficult, it may be important to have solid legal representation as a settlement is negotiated. In some cases, a lawyer might review prenuptial documents to verify that such an agreement is valid. In other cases, a spouse might need help in tracking down hidden assets. Further, legal assistance may be important for ensuring that assets such as retirement plans and investments are included in a settlement.

Source: CNN, "Russian oligarch's divorce bill cut by $4 billion", Ivana Kottasova, June 12, 2015

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