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Property division concerns shared by average and the mega rich

When people in Lancaster see stories like this one of a billionaire and his wife divorcing, they can't help but think that the concerns they have during a divorce are quite different than their own. The truth is, however, that is not always true. Sure, they have much more money than most people in Lancaster, but that doesn't mean that they don't also have to figure out property division, child custody and support, alimony and other such family law issues.

In fact, this week's story about a Russian billionaire divorcing in Swiss courts, is very similar to what average and high-income couples in Pennsylvania have to go through, too. They just have considerably more money and property to divide.

We should note that this divorce was not settled in the United States, much less in Pennsylvania. As such, the laws are not the same, but they are similar enough that it is worthwhile to share this story.

The billionaire, whose fortune tops $8.8 billion, was ordered to pay his now-ex-wife $4.5 billion. It would appear that Switzerland, like Pennsylvania, does not divide marital estates exactly in half, but will equitably distribute the property between the divorcing spouses.

The woman is also to receive property in Gstaad and Geneva, Switzerland, worth more than $146 million.

Though there are few people in the world with this kind of money, Pennsylvania couples have to work with their family lawyers to do the same sorts of things during a divorce. The spouses will need to divide their assets, including their bank accounts and their property. If they cannot come to an agreement with the help of their lawyers, they will have to go to a judge to decide how the marital property is to be divided.

Source: The Associated Press, “Russian oligarch faces $4.5 billion Swiss divorce,” John Heilprin, May 20, 2014

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