The Wall Street Journal ran an article today in which a couple, in the absence of lawyers, easily divided their assets on the way to an easy and amicable divorce. This scenario, I am afraid, has limited applicability.
The article details the divorce of Tim and Edra Blixseth, who were married for twenty five years and, together, amassed a fortune worth two billion dollars. Apparently, the couple was able to sit together, share a bottle of fine wine, and divide their wealth in a relatively short time.
For most couples, a divorce is far more complicated than deciding who gets the 420 acre estate and who gets control of the fleet of corporate jets. For most, a division of the assets is simply not that easy. Assets, like homes and automobiles, are generally encumbered by debt. The parties are generally so leveraged that assets must be liquidated in order to distribute the equity.
Since the Blixseths had adult children, they did not have to address the issues of child custody or visitation. Often, these issues are more emotional and demanding than the economic issues.
Absent greed, there was no reason why the Blixseths could not easily settle their case. The multi-billion dollar marital estate left both parties with more than adequate wealth to support their luxurious lifestyle or to replace any asset given up as part of the divorce settlement
Often, it is the less affluent divorce that requires good lawyering to settle. In a case, where there are insufficient assets and income to support both parties in the marital lifestyle, a couple of hundred dollars a month in child support or spousal maintenance payments makes a big difference. I am certain that part of what made the Blixseths’ divorce so easy is that they did not have to worry if they would have enough cash flow to make their monthly mortgage payments.