Divorce Between Ultra-High Net Worths – Special Considerations and When is Enough Enough?

Ultra-high net worth divorces usually involve legal and commercial issues which require expert legal advice and representation.

You may have recently read on the news about one of Russia’s richest men, Vladimir Potanin, winning a London court case as part of long-running legal proceedings with his ex-wife after a judge decided that the UK courts should not be used for “divorce tourism”. The parties were both Russian nationals, lived in Russia throughout their marriage and the only reason Mrs Potanina (the “Respondent”) came to the UK was to initiate the divorce proceedings.

The Respondent received around $40 million following the legal proceedings in Russia which left her very disappointed as she was asking for $6 billion. The Respondent claimed that her ex-husband disclosed only a small fraction of his true wealth because most of his assets consisted of shares in companies or other business entities not registered in his name but were held in trusts or corporate vehicles.

Businesses and ultra-high net worth divorce

The most significant asset in high net worth divorces is often a privately-owned business. It can be very difficult to obtain its proper valuation. The situation can be even more complicated if a large chunk of assets is held in complex inter-related onshore and offshore corporate and trust structures.

Do offshore assets need to be disclosed for a divorce settlement?

Both spouses are required by law to disclose all of their assets during divorce so they can be considered for the purposes of the financial settlement. This includes offshore assets and it is not advisable to hide them as your spouse could later make a claim for a new financial settlement if those assets are not included in the original divorce settlement, which will be costly and time consuming for you.

Special considerations in high net worth divorce

The courts take a very broad approach when assessing a spouse’s financial needs. In the case of ultra-high net worth’s the spouses tend to have a very high standard of living and there are substantial financial assets at stake, therefore, the parties’ needs will be assessed in a more generous way than in an ordinary divorce case, which could translate into millions of pounds.

International complications

High net worth individuals often lead international lifestyles, in which case the divorce will have an international element in it. There can be a dispute about which jurisdiction would be the right one for the divorce. England and Wales is often known as ‘the divorce capital of the world’ for its more flexible approach to divorce and more favourable financial outcome for the dependant spouse.

Financial provision after an overseas divorce

If you have divorced overseas and a financial order was made by a foreign court, you may still apply for further financial provision in England and Wales. In accordance with Part III of the Matrimonial & Family Proceedings Act 1984 the UK courts can make the same financial orders as if the divorce had been granted in England.

When you make that final decision to get divorced you will need to consider various complicating factors, including offshore assets and businesses. Our solicitors can advise you on your legal rights, including the ones arising out of a pre-nuptial agreement or post-nuptial agreement and guide you through the whole divorce process to help you achieve the best possible outcome. Please get in touch with us today on +44(0)203 146 3549 / email: info@lflegal.co.uk


All our articles are intended for informational purposes only and do not constitute legal advice. It is recommended that specific professional advice is sought before acting on any of the information provided.

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