Seven secrets of the super-rich divorce

The aging billionaire and younger new girlfriend trope isn’t without its dangers. A few years ago, a super-wealthy tycoon was in the process of burning through London’s top lawyers in a highly acrimonious divorce that was even thought to be one that would set new legal precedents. The proceedings were suddenly and brutally curtailed when he died of a heart attack during a penis enlargement operation in an exclusive clinic on the Champs Élysées. Lawyers speculated at the time that his incentive for this operation was a new, youthful girlfriend.

3. Their pets are worth more than you are

The rich are like us in that they love their pets. They’re different, however, in the money they lavish on them, both before and during their divorces. Lloyd Platt has seen costs included in budgets that involve “Perrier water for the dog and smoked salmon for the cat”. While they may be loved, in law these animals are chattels with the same status as a fridge-freezer, but that doesn’t stop couples spending thousands in pet disputes.

Dogs are the most hotly contested, followed by Koi Carp, according to Lloyd Platt, but expensive polo ponies can be key assets.

There was one case, according to Vardag, “where they fought so long over the very precious family of rabbits that had actually died before they resolved it.”

4. Their lawyers’ fees will be more than we could ever hope to earn or own

Top lawyers charge as much as £1200 per hour so it’s not hard for these to ratchet up. This is sometimes coupled with a desire to win at all costs, even if it means that they might spend far more than is logical. “What never ceases to amaze me about the very very wealthy,” says Lloyd Platt, “is that it’s all about winning.”

A current case, Rakshina v Xanthoupoulos, going through the High Court has racked up fees of £5.5 million in just 17 months, a figure described by the judge, Mr Justice Mostyn, as “apocalyptic”.

5. Home is where the helipad is

Most of us live in one house and pay our taxes to that country’s government. Ultra high net worth individuals, however, have multiple homes and do their very best to avoid paying taxes anywhere. How then do lawyers decide where they should get divorced?

“We had one about three weeks ago,” says Lloyd Platt, “where an extremely wealthy lady couldn’t qualify for a divorce in London because she had so many homes all over the place that she just wasn’t here long enough.”

Lawyers instead have a list of queries to help them try to answer the seemingly obvious question: where do you live? “’Where is your favorite hairdresser, your dog walker, your dog in fact, which doctor would you fly in to see, who’s your dentist’… anything that determines where they spend most of their time,” says Alex Carruthers.

These “citizens of nowhere” float in a weird stateless world where national boundaries and cultures are blurred into a high-end amorphous nothingness. The more their houses look the same, the better. One top tech entrepreneur had his PA photograph his desk each time he traveled so that his desk on the other side of the world could be arranged in exactly the same way in preparation for his arrival.

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