Multi-million-dollar divorce could move from Monaco to New York

When New York couples divorce, the property division includes gifts that they gave each other during the marriage. If those gifts are worth millions of dollars, they can become a serious issue of contention. That's the case in one divorce that's made its way to the Manhattan Supreme Court

Maurice Alain Amon, a Swiss businessman, and his wife, Tracey Hejailan-Amon, are divorcing in Monaco after eight years of marriage. That's just one of the countries in which the couple resided. They also had homes in France, Switzerland and here in New York City.

Unlike Monaco, which allows divorcing spouses to take back gifts they gave their partners, New York's equitable distribution laws would give Mrs. Amon a better chance of keeping the approximately $70 million worth of jewelry, art, cars and property (including an apartment on Fifth Avenue valued at $15 million) that her husband gave her. She would also have a better chance of getting a share of the couple's art collection, valued at $25 million.

According to Mr. Amon's attorney, his client could end up paying his wife "perhaps $100 million more than what a Monaco court might order" if the divorce is moved to New York. He has called his client's estranged wife, who is also seeking $235,000 each month in alimony a "gold digger."

Her attorney, however, says that because the couple spent considerable time at their home in New York, she should be able to be considered a legal resident of the state. It was not reported whether or not she has U.S. citizenship. However, she does not vote in the state nor file taxes here.

While we don't know whether this couple had a prenuptial agreement, this certainly brings up a couple of things that couples in which at least one spouse has considerable assets should consider when drafting one. If gifts are going to run into large amounts of money, it may be wise to stipulate that in a divorce, the gift-giver gets those back -- particularly if they're things that either party can use, like homes, cars and boats.

If a couple has a residence outside of the U.S., and particularly if one or both spouses maintains citizenship in another country, it's also essential to get legal guidance on where a divorce can or must take place. An experienced New York family law attorney can help you with these issues and more.

Source: New York Post, "Socialite wants divorce moved to NYC in bid to save $70M," Julia Marsh, July 30, 2016

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