Every once in a while a new client will make an appointment with the sole purpose of determining whether he/she can afford to get divorced or whether the financial consequences will be so devastating that he/she is better to stick it out.
The fact is that divorce often means relinquishing half of your property and paying generous, perhaps lifetime, spousal support. For a middle class Canadian it can be a significant financial setback.
However, it is no less crushing for spouses with great wealth. Consider the expenses of maintaining multiple homes in various locations around the world; travel expenses including the upkeep of executive jets or helicopters; lavish vacations; hundreds of thousands of dollars for the most exclusive private schools for their children and shopping sprees at Hermes, Vuitton and Cartier’s.
Do you think it was easy for the following group of millionaires/billionaires to write settlement cheques to their wives?
1. RUPERT MURDOCH, media tycoon, paid $1.7 billion in 1998 to his wife ANNA MURDOCH MANN, to whom he was married for 31 years. In 2010 Ms. Mann finally broke her silence about the divorce giving her first interview to an Australian magazine. She referred to her ex as “ruthless” and predicted an ugly succession battle when Mr. Murdoch gives up the reins to his media conglomerate or dies. She said that she hoped her children would not be overlooked in favour of Mr. Murdoch’s second family with his wife Wendi Deng.
Of course, she would not have know that her husband’s 14-year marriage to Ms. Deng would also end in divorce. The couple separated in the summer of 2013 and the rumour mill has run rampant since then. Some say that Ms. Deng had an affair with their children’s godfather, former Prime Minister Tony Blair, while others claim that Ms. Deng has been spying for the Chinese government all these years.
What is certain is that Mr. Murdoch will be writing another large cheque, once the dust settles.
2. Saudi arms dealer ADNAN KHASHOGGI left his wife SORAYA after 13 years of marriage. His extra marital affairs were no secret , but when he took up with one of his wife’s closest friends their union was over. She sued him for $2.5 billion but accepted an out of court settlement for $874 million. Mr. Kashoggi retained his yacht, Nabila, which at the time was the most expensive ship in the world and was featured in the James Bond movie “Never Say Never”.
The word was that Mr. Khashoggi’s fortunes declined in the late 1980s, thanks to overspending on festivities, ill-advised investments and his involvement in scandals including the collapse of the Bank of Credit and Commerce International, the fall of Ferdinand Marcos and the Iran-Contra affair—though he was never convicted of criminal wrongdoing. He now claims to be broke and living modestly in Monaco.
But not everyone is falling for that story. One tenacious American creditor and its lawyers are aggressively pursuing him for an 11-year-old debt of $21 million to a securities-clearing firm. In a move that would break new legal ground if successful, they are trying to get the American judgment against Mr. Khashoggi enforced in his native Saudi Arabia.
3. Russian billionaire businessman ROMAN ABRAMOVICH divorced his second wife Irina after 16 years of marriage and five children. Forbes magazine named him the tenth richest man in Russia, fiftieth in world rankings with a net worth of $11.2 billion. His payout to IRINA was a mere $300 million. Roman retained the Chelsea Football Club and a collection of businesses, homes, yachts, airplanes and cars, including a Ferrari, a Maserati, a Bugati, several Porches, and a Mercedes Benz.
He is said to be a collector of yachts, owning five at last count.
Hollywood celebrity, the aging Zsa Zsa Gabor’s lament is likely shared by Ms. Murdoch, Ms. Khashoggi and Ms. Abramovich, when she said: “I want a man that’s kind and understanding, is that too much to ask of a millionaire?
Lawdiva aka Georgialee Lang