Lawyers predicted that Roman Abramovich’s forthcoming split from his wife could be one of the biggest divorce cases ever in London, if the deal is done in the UK capital at all.
Abramovich, the billionaire Russian tycoon and owner of Chelsea, has split from his wife of ten years, the art collector Dasha Zhukova, they announced today. The couple, who had two children together, said in a joint statement that they had decided to part amicably.
English family law specialists said that rows could nevertheless lie ahead, with the first potentially being over jurisdiction. They pointed out that Abramovich’s last divorce was heard by a court in Moscow and that Zhukova is Russian. However, they said it would potentially be in his wife’s favour to have this divorce heard in London.
“As far as the court is concerned, it will take the view that if the couple is habitually resident in England, then it will have jurisdiction,” said Nigel Shepherd, the chairman of Resolution, a group that represents family lawyers, and a partner at Mills & Reeve, a national law firm.
There was some conjecture among lawyers over whether the would result in an equal share of the assets going to the wife if it were heard in England. “They have only been married for eight years,” said Shepherd, “so the court is likely to base the award on need. Although that will be generously determined on the basis of her current lifestyle.”
But Kate Hamilton, a partner in the family team at the London law firm Russell-Cooke, predicted that Zhukova “could be entitled to receive half of their combined wealth, unless there is a good reason not to”.