Some married couples have such great wealth that a divorce is more like a separation of sovereign states than a division of property. Separate and marital property can be so complex with High Asset divorces in Ohio that formal and final separations take years.
Prenuptial and postnuptial agreements are not uncommon among the affluent. The contracts protect individual property interests, which can be extensive when fortunes are invested in real estate.
Kent and Elizabeth Swig are divorcing after more than a quarter century of marriage. The spouses were wealthy before they married in 1987, raised in homes of extremely successful property buyers and developers. Kent Swig met his wife after forging a business relationship with her father.
In 2002, the couple moved into a Park Avenue apartment building among billionaires. Kent Swig wasted no time investing in more prime properties and his efforts paid off, at least temporarily. At his richest, Swig had a stake in real estate valued at $3 billion.
When the real estate market plummeted during the recession, so did the Swig’s fortune. Kent Swig’s properties lost value and creditors were calling or suing for satisfaction on an estimated $116 million in personally guaranteed loans. Temporary efforts to shore up finances failed.
The debt became overwhelming and personal in 2009. Swig was forced to ask his wife’s father for help, a $200,000 loan to cover legal fees. On the same day of the family agreement, Kent and Elizabeth Swig signed a postnuptial contract.
In the event of divorce, the Elizabeth would receive the $32.5 million Park Avenue duplex, a second home valued at $26.5 million, artwork worth $12 million plus about $12 million in additional separate property.
The husband filed for divorce in March 2010. There’s still no final decree.
Most Columbus couples never see legal complications during divorce like this, but conflicts over property may take longer than expected to resolve.
Source: The New York Times, “With Fortune Falling, a 1 Percent Divorce” Julie Creswell, Feb. 01, 2014