Divorces and separations are difficult issues to begin with. When a couple with high-value or complex assets gets divorced, further complications are added to an already complicated time. Difficulties may arise in relation to property division, net worth, and support. The consequences for a high-net-worth spouse who behaves improperly during a divorce can also be extremely sever. Take for example a father who was recently ordered to pay his former spouse $24 million following a messy divorce.

The couple

We wrote about the couple in a blog entry from December. In that blog, we explained how the couple met in Singapore in the 1980s where the husband worked as a neurologist while the wife trained to be a nurse’s assistant.  They were married in Singapore in 1007 and had two children by 1999.

The family is very wealthy. Most of their income comes from the husband’s medical practice. The wife stopped working long before the couple got divorced. The family relocated to Vancouver in 2003, and purchased a home there in 2004. The husband ended up staying in Singapore to continue working, but visited from time to time. They amassed a large property portfolio over the years, including a Vancouver condo, a condo in Florida, a ski chalet, properties in Singapore, and a condo in Thailand. Altogether, their real estate was estimated to be worth about $50 million.

Leading up to the trial

The trial being discussed today revolved around child and spousal support for the wife and children.

The wife was seeking a lump sum payment of support, while the husnand asked to be able to make monthly payments. In considering their requests, the court focused on the husband’s conduct during the divorce process, writing,

“For a long time he was utterly unwilling to acknowledge or fulfill his parental and spousal responsibilities or acknowledge this Court’s role in adjudicating those responsibilities. In an affidavit sworn on May 22, 2017, he stated: ‘I will not pay a dollar for alimony now or till death or whatever any one decrees no matter what.’ He also said that ‘I have sworn I will pay with my ashes only’. He said of (one child), ‘I do not think she needs child support at all at this age of 17 years.’ In his testimony at trial, he explained that he swore this affidavit before he had experienced first hand the court process in British Columbia, that he has been favourably impressed by the process, and that he is now prepared to abide by this Court’s orders. There is at least a risk that he will change his mind again. (The wife) should not be required to pursue further proceedings here and likely collection proceedings in Singapore on a monthly basis as payments come due. For these reasons, I find that special circumstances justifying a lump sum award are present.”

As a result, the husband was ordered to give the wife over $16 million in assets, which included real estate. He was also ordered to pay a $2.3 million equalization payment in relation to other properties he would keep. These properties were worth about $21.4 million.

Finally, he was also ordered to make a $5.5 million lump sum spousal support payment as well as a $612,000 lump child support payment.

To speak with an experienced Windsor lawyer about high-asset divorce issues, call 519.973.1500 or contact us online. Many of our clients are referred to us by former and current clients, as well as by lawyers, accountants and other professionals.