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Murdoch split shows complexities of high asset divorce

Last week, it was announced that billionaire Rupert Murdoch was filing for divorce from his third wife of 14 years, Wendi. Since then, the high-profile divorce has been a hot topic in the media. While some sources are predicting that the divorce will be highly-contested, others are guessing that the couple will settle the matter outside of the court system, perhaps though mediation.

What is known at this point is that a lot of money is at stake in the divorce. As you may remember, Murdoch's divorce from his second wife, Anna, cost him a rumored $1.7 billion, including $110 million in cash. According to sources, Rupert and Wendi signed a prenuptial agreement that gives her no financial stake in Murdoch's $73 billion media company, News Corporation, but Murdoch himself is worth a reported $11.2 billion, according to Forbes.

Child custody and child support will also likely be important issues in the Murdoch divorce. Rupert and Wendi have two minor children, ages 11 and 9, which means they will have to agree on a custody arrangement. If Wendi is awarded primary custody, it is possible that Rupert could be ordered a pay an unprecedented amount in child support, as the guidelines are partially based on the income of the parents.

High net worth divorce cases -- even ones involving much less than what's at stake in the Murdoch divorce -- require a special level of care because of the complexities that are often involved. While Illinois and most other states divide marital property "equitably," it can be hard to place a value on unique assets such as business interests and investments. That is why it's important to consult an expert with experience handling high-asset divorce cases.

Source: New York Times, "After 14 Years, Murdoch Files for Divorce From Third Wife," Amy Chozick, June 13, 2013

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