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by Zsolt Szemerszky

Zsolt Szemerszky

Divorce in Monaco

Divorce in Monaco

There are three times more marriage ceremonies than divorces in Monaco; however, the Principality has approximately 60-90 divorce cases each year. Due to the wealth of the residents, some of those divorces are truly high-profile cases with world-wide media attention. But it is still worth it because divorcing in Monaco offers exceptional benefits for the super-rich.

It is interesting to know that you can divorce under the legislation of the Principality of Monaco in the very first days that you have received your residence permit, however it is good to consider that Monaco does not offer the European comfort of separation since there is no legal concept of shared marital property in Monaco.

Most of us go into a marriage without even imagining the possibility that something may go wrong. In many cases, the heat is not burning anymore and we are often weak to face the fact that the love is gone. Therefore, when a divorce is coming, it can be extremely painful. Many people also do not take the responsibility because they arescared of the fight that may occur during the process. What others think is none of your business, do not even listen to their opinions. If the fire is out and you feel that your relationship is over, then do not stay in the marriage because of necessity or social opinions. Everyone deserves to live a happy life, even if there is temporary loss in it.

SUGGESTION:

Divorce can be very tricky in the Principality. Sometimes you need to check whether the local laws apply or you have to use the law of your country of origin.

The process of divorce in the Principality is often difficult because of the country of origin of the foreign residents. For example, if a Swiss man marries a German woman and they both reside in the Principality of Monaco, they need to take into consideration three different legislations (Swiss, German, Monégasque).

SUGGESTION:

According to the Anglo-Saxon Laws, the judge can give a percentage of your wealth to your husband/wife. In the Monegasque system, the key word is the level of life and the duration of the marriage. For very wealthy people, this difference is fundamental, because it can have extreme financial implications for them.

In many cases, the decision depends on the judge who decides on his/her ruling based on one of the nationalities. Of course, parties also have the possibility to request the ruling based on their country of origin.

In many cases, and especially when there is no settlement between the parties the applied law can be crucial. Even if you are able to divorce under the legislation of the Principality of Monaco in the very first days that you have received your residence permit, Monaco does not offer the European comfort of separation.

In Monaco, the base of compensation for the spouse is never based on the actual wealth. Based on the law, what you brought into the marriage stays yours after the divorce. Therefore, if you had a house before the marriage you can keep the house and your spouse has no right to it. The separation is based only on the commonly-built wealth.

In case your spouse had no income during the marriage, the court is entitled to create a basic calculation of her monthly living cost, which is an indicator of maintaining the same level of lifestyle that the spouse had during the marriage.

Based on the ruling, you could be directed to ensure this living cost to your spouse for a maximum period of five years.

This is an exceptional benefit for the ultra-rich residents, since by applying the Monégasque law they can save multimillions on a divorce. For example, if you are a wealthy guy having 100 million Euro and you live with your wife with a monthly living cost of 5,000 Euro, then based on the standard law practice in Monaco, the maximum you pay to your ex-wife is 300,000 Euro, which is the monthly living cost for five years. This means you will still keep the 99.7% of your wealth.

SUGGESTION:

The question of competency is among the very first things you have to identify in a divorce case.

In a case like this, in many European countries, the wife would be entitled to at least half of the assets and wealth, especially if there are children involved.

In the Principality of Monaco, the person who built up the wealth enjoys the protection. It could be also considered a protection of true love and relationship against the gold diggers who go into a marriage because of the wealth and lifestyle. Obviously, this is the major reason why competency plays an important role in the divorce process.

Once the divorce is done, the Certificate of Transcription of Divorce applies to all divorce judgments by the Court of First Instance in Monaco. The Registry Office of the Mairie de Monaco (Town Hall) will issue the certificate immediately on presentation of your proof of identity.

Back to the competency and jurisdiction, one of my favourite examples is the divorce case of the Swiss businessman Maurice Alain Amon and Tracey Hejailan. Mr Amon had a truly unusual legal claim, arguing the question of residency which was at the Le Mirabeau building in Monaco.

His lawyer claimed that Manhattan, New York cannot be the right jurisdiction for the divorce, arguing that his socialite wife’s extensive shoe collection sits in their Monte-Carlo closet and not in their Manhattan pad. He claimed that the vast shoe collection showed that the Monaco apartment was her primary residence, and thus the Principality was the proper court venue.

This move aimed to save tens of millions for Mr Amon, because there’s no legal concept of shared marital property in Monaco. To be more precise, Ms Hejailan-Amon expected to get as much as $70million in a US court, but only received $1.26million by the Monaco court. (Mr Amon is worth a rumoured $1.4billion.)

Interestingly, not so long ago, the socialite Tracey Hejailan-Amon restarted the battle. She claimed that her $122,858 a month divorce settlement is not enough for her glamorous lifestyle. Ms Hejailan- Amon blasted the settlement as insufficient, claiming she needed four times that amount – nearly $500,000 a month – to maintain her lifestyle of year-round private plane and yacht travel.

Obviously, the question of residency did not turn out very well in the case of Dmitry Rybolovlev and his wife Elena. For many years, the dirty laundry was aired, and unwarranted attention attracted throughout six different jurisdictions.

The couple had reached an amicable deal in order to put an end to all legal procedures launched in different jurisdictions. The case was labelled as: “The most expensive divorce in history”.

Mr Rybolovlev is the world’s 165 wealthiest man with a net worth of $8.5 billion. Although the size of the monetary settlement was not disclosed, it is important to acknowledge that an award of four billion Swiss francs (£2.7 billion) was already granted by the Swiss court to Elena in May 2014.

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