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Divorce for the Wealthy

Why Divorce For The Wealthy Is Different and 3 Biggest Divorces

3 Biggest Divorces

  • Anna Murdoch Man divorce from Rupert Murdoch. Anna awarded $1.7 Billion (in 1999)
  • Jocelyn Wildenstein divorce from Alex Wildenstein. Jocelyn awarded $3.8 Billion (in 1999)
  • MacKenzie Bezos divorce from Jeff Bezos’s. Mackenzie awarded $38 Billion (in 2019)

Why Divorce Is Different For The Wealthy

Here Are 3 Key Ways Which Divorce Is Different For The Wealthy

1. Tax

High net worth individuals normally have in place a plan for tax minimisation which can often deliver material benefits.  Divorce can often pull apart the underlying tax minimisation strategy, generating unintended consequences and ultimately a large tax obligation.  It is critical for your lawyer to have a thorough understanding of tax law to put in place a property settlement that maintains the value of the asset pool to be divided

2. Controlling interest

High net worth individuals usually own shares in both private and public companies. Ordinarily, the dollar value of the assets is divided, however not all shares are equal. For example, often people may hold controlling interest by way of shares with specific voting rights or a class of shares with priority rights over other classes of shares.  Control can also be maintained through specific corporate structures. For example, under a discretionary trust investment vehicle the trust deed will nominate the appointor who ordinarily has the right to appoint and remove the trustee. This appointor can exercise significant control by appointing a friendly trustee. It is critical for the family law attorney advising high net wealthy individuals on their divorce to have a thorough understanding of corporate law to ensure the client not only receives a portion of the monetary value but also receives the appropriate level of controlling interest in the underlying assets.

3. Overseas assets

Wealthy families often hold assets in multiple jurisdictions.  This typically involves real estate but can also include other assets such as shareholdings.  Any property settlement will need to take into account the total asset pool including those overseas assets.  The lawyer will need connections in multiple jurisdictions to identify those assets to ensure no assets are withheld from one party as part of disclosure.  The lawyer will also need an understanding of whether those jurisdictions will recognise the Australian Federal Court and an understanding on how to otherwise enforce court orders in foreign jurisdictions.

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