Last week, a Swiss court ordered a Russian billionaire to pay more than $4.5 billion to his ex-wife in what constitutes the divorce in world history. The 47 year old Dmitry Rybolovev made his fortune from potash mining and is known as the "fertilizer king." He is also the owner of the French soccer club AS Monaco.
When parties are contemplating a divorce and ask me what the process will be like, I always tell clients that there are two distinct paths that a case can take. The first path is litigation. In this situation, one side files the complaint and then the parties engage in discovery wherein the attorneys exchange information regarding the parties' assets and liabilities. Once this process is complete, the parties and their attorneys attend a pre-trial conference. If the matter can not be settled there, the Court schedules a trial and each side presents testimony and evidence in order to prove how the assets should be divided and what amount, if any, of alimony is appropriate.
In any divorce one of the largest issues attorneys must resolve is determining how to divide the couple's assets. This can obviously be a sticky issue and can be made even more complicated when gifts are involved. Generally, a gift by a third party to one spouse is considered non-marital property and is not subject to be divided by the Court. If one spouse receives such a gift, it must be clear that the gift giver intended to make the gift to that spouse individually. Usually, this is done in some form of writing and states the purpose of the gift and that the gift is meant to be the sole property of the recipient.
At the beginning of the divorce process, many clients ask me whether or not they should stay in the marital home or move out. My advice to the client is always to remain in the marital residence until the process has begun and, if necessary have a judge determine which party should remain in the home. Obviously, continuing to live in the same home as the person you are preparing to divorce is not a comfortable situation for either party. However, if the court thinks that the parties can live together peacefully in the home during the period of separation the court will not evict either spouse.
Every morning I stop at the local coffee shop to get my shot of caffeine to start the day. Over the years, coffee shops have become more than a place you run in and grab a java, and then take off. In essence, they have become the new "water cooler" where the guys sit around and talk about inane issues, from sports to politics, to cars, just to pass the time before going to do what they do to make a living. (For whatever reason, it's all guys that hang out-I don't know why-but then again, I do know-no respectful women would be found dead around us.) Actually, the place I go is a little more interesting than that-mostly because of the different personalities that sit around and shoot the "you know what". They all know what I do for a living-so I get all of the "lawyer questions"-especially those relating to divorces. Some questions are more colorful than others, some just more crassly put because of the subject matter. Well come on, we are talking about "divorce" around men. (I'll spare you from hearing this diatribe next time I talk about the Coffee Shop (CS), but this is my introduction of the CS to the blogosphere so it's necessary).
In our previous post, we began a discussion about the growing popularity of prenuptial agreements. More couples in Pittsburgh and elsewhere are realizing that these documents are not just for the very wealthy or for couples of vastly different ages.
Valentine's Day occurred earlier this week, and the dust may be just starting to settle for many Pittsburgh residents. There are few occasions which illicit such contrasting emotions, and most people either love or hate this holiday depending on their expectations and previous experiences.
Earlier this week, we began a discussion about the long list of financial considerations involved in getting a divorce, especially when children are involved. Pittsburgh residents who have made the big and difficult decision to get divorced may quickly realize that there are many more big and difficult decisions ahead.
Choosing to get a divorce is a big decision in and of itself. But once that decision has been made, there is a long list of other decisions which will need to be made as well, including many large ones that could impact the financial futures of you and your children.