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Britain’s Most Expensive Divorce

The wife of a Russian oligarch was awarded £453 million on the 11th May 2017 in what is thought to be the biggest ever divorce settlement.

The pay-out was from a 61 year old oil tycoon amounting to just over 41% of his estimated wealth of 1.1 billion.

The couple involved, who have two grown-up children, met in Moscow in 1989 and married 4 years later.  They moved to Britain shortly after and the wife became a British citizen 15 years ago.

The wife was recognised by the court as being a “housewife and mother” throughout the marriage and, her generous settlement seems to represent an example of the English courts generosity towards the financially weaker spouse.

The generosity appears to be founded upon the fundamental principal that bread winners’ and homemakers respective contributions to a marriage are of equal importance.  With this in mind, London still appears to be seen as the divorce capital of the world.  For very high net worth international couples, the financial consequence of divorcing in the UK remain very significant.

The previous largest divorce settlement is thought to have been made in November 2014 where, a financier was ordered to pay £337 million to his estranged wife.


It has been announced in the last couple of days that the owner of Chelsea Football Club, Roman Abramovich, one of the most prominent Russian oligarch’s in the UK, has separated from his wife of 10 years Dasha Zhukova.

It is said that the couple who have two children, will remain close friends and indeed, remain intent their parting will be amicable although, it will be the third divorce for Mr Abramovich.

His present wealth is estimated in the media as being in the region of £7 billion to $9 billion.

It has been reported that he was given “a quickie” divorce in Moscow from his second wife where the settlement was around £150 million, which can perhaps be contrasted with the £140 million he paid for Chelsea FC in 2003.

Although details have remained hidden under Russia’s secretive legal system, it is thought the second wife was given a lump sum as well as four homes including an £18 million mansion in the UK and two other London properties at Eaton Square and Chester Square.

It was also reported at the time that, his second wife consulted leading British Divorce Lawyers although ultimately pursued matters through the Russian courts.

Had she brought proceedings in the UK then, potentially, she could have argued entitlement to half his wealth which it is understood at that time stood at £11 billion.

If, the breakdown of the third marriage is dealt with in London then, it appears extremely likely the existing record for most expensive divorce settlement is very likely to be broken.

If you require further advice and/or information in relation to a divorce settlement contact Jane Williams or contact our Family team in Cardiff on 02920 388398 or contact our Sue Keppe in our London offices.

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