Government and Politics

Richest Man in Russia Facing Huge Divorce Bill


Judge  gavel with books in the background

Divorce often comes with a heavy price tag. For some, the cost of separating from a spouse is figuratively high; for others, it’s literally more costly. Take, for example, the richest man in Russia, whose estranged wife is asking for half of his $15 billion in a divorce battle. 

After divorcing last year, Vladimir Potanin offered his former spouse of 30 years, Natalia Potanina, a settlement which included a $250,000 monthly allowance and properties in Moscow, London, and New York. 

A little closer to home, there were more than 16,000 divorces and annulments in 2012 in Maryland, according to the latest available data from the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene . More than one-third (36%) of divorcing residents reported having children under the age of 18 years. 

Child custody is another emotional cost of divorce, for everyone involved. Children may be forced to live with only one parent, (typically the mother, as only about 17% of custodial single parents are men, and 44.8% of custodial fathers are widowed, or have never been married) and this can greatly strain a relationship. 

In one study of college students who had divorced parents, 73% said their lives would be different if their parents had stayed together; 51% said they’d be a different person if their dad was more active in their life; and 29% wondered if their fathers even loved them. 

When it comes to the financial cost, there are the attorney’s fees, court costs, costs for parent education classes, fees for early neutral evaluations and mediation costs. If there’s real estate involved, there may also be refinancing costs, record deed fees, and additional hourly attorney’s fees, too. Though this varies by state, the generally accepted estimate of an average divorce case is between $15,000 and $20,000. 

That, apparently, is only a fraction of what Natalia Potanina believes is rightfully hers. She claims t hat Potanin’s real wealth is held in offshore companies, and is now in an international battle to get at it. Vladimir runs the world’s largest nickel producer, Norilsk Nickel, which has a market value of over $30 billion. He also controls a transport and infrastructure company, a pharmaceutical firm and a ski resort operator. 

With half of $15 billion, Natalia could purchase the New York Yankees twice over, Buckingham palace four times over, and 14 different Airbus super jumbos. She has not decided how to spend the money, should she win it.

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