Divorce in New York vs. Connecticut vs. Sweden: A case study of Marie and George David's divorce

I’ve become almost fixated with the Swedes since I heard about the divorce between Swedish Countess Marie Douglas David and her rich hubby, George David, chairman of United Technologies Corporation. So much so that while working out at the gym this afternoon (I finally decided it was time to get my rotund behind on the stairmaster which along with Gwyneth Paltrow’s endorsed “master cleanse” should relieve me of the 400 pounds of fat I’ve been lugging around Manhattan – God, I feel like Bridget Jones!!!) I found myself thinking about divorce in Sweden and wondering how the divorce laws might be different there than here in New York.
It’s interesting, because a few years ago, while in Stockholm, I marvelled at the placidness and beauty of this Nordic archipelago on the tip of St. Petersburg and Turku Finland. I imagined then that everyone in Stockholm must lead a very rich, though peaceful life. I imagined they all were coupled, and were living happily ever after, immersed within all the water and beauty.  I had no idea that behind the pastoral veneer lurked a country with one of the highest, if not the highest divorce rate in the world – perhaps, at this point, even higher than it is here in the United States.
But I should have known. Because of Linda. Linda was a young Swede I met in Paris in 2003. She was stylish, skinny and man-crazy. She kept assuring me that in Sweden people are not so uptight the way they were in Paris. Linda thought the French were uptight. The French uptight! In her view, they just weren’t having enough, how should I say this? Enough sex. She was dating a few men at a time and liked to return to the foyer and tell us all of her escapades. Even the other Swedish girls blanched when she related her travails. Linda definitely reworked my image of Sweden as being this happyland where everyone fell in love and stayed in love with one person for the rest of their lives. And it didn’t happen too soon…
But, so, now, fast forward about 6 years later. Now  I am a New York Divorce attorney who writes a divorce blog. I’ve just come back from the gym all pumped up and I want to talk about divorce in Sweden and Divorce in New York. And I want to compare the two. And why? Because of Linda and because of Countess Marie Douglas David. And because, what else am I going to talk about on a Friday night such as this?  
In any event, just like divorce in New York is governed by a code – the Domestic Relations Laws – divorce in Sweden is governed by the Swedish Legislation, or code, called the Marriage Code. One big difference between the two countries is the fact that while the law in Sweden used to require fault (a party who wanted a divorce had to prove “serious fault by a spouse or conflict between the spouses that transferred the relationship into mutual hate and loathing”) Sweden is now a no fault jurisdiction, meaning no fault need be proven. Not so in New York. In New York, one still has to prove fault. (But, in Sweden, if a divorce is contested, the other party does have to wait 6-12 months before the divorce will be confirmed.)
Interesting to note, Countess Marie Douglas David and her husband George David own properties in Sweden as well as in Avon Connecticut and New York. And as far as I’ve heard, the Countess is still a Swedish citizen (she probably holds dual citizenship). So, technically, she ought to have been able to commence her divorce action against George in Sweden.  But she didn’t.
I wonder why she didn’t bring the divorce in New York or Sweden where they own properties but instead brought action in Hartford Superior Court?  I should note that Connecticut is also a no fault state, just like Sweden but an equitable distribution state like New York.
So Swedes didn’t have to prove grounds to get a divorce, which leads me to think that Marie ought to have brought the action there. Although, maybe that makes no sense since most of their property seems to be here in America.
I think this case comes down to the money. I think they brought the case in the jurisdiction where they felt she could get the biggest bang for her buck, and where it was most convenient. I mean, if she had brought the case in Sweden (assuming she’s still a citizen) his lawyers would have totally gotten that thrown out on Forum non-conveniens grounds. He can’t litigate a divorce action in Sweden and run a corporation in New York. That’s just asinine. That is what they would have argued.
As far as choosing Connecticut over New York, well, New York is an equitable distribution state. So the New York courts are looking at what is “fair.” But Connecticut is also an equitable distribution state (as is Florida, New Jersey, Georgia and a few others). So it wasn’t a question of fairness that drove the Davids into a Connecticut court. What drove them there over the other two possible venues?
I’m guessing it was the quickest route. In Connecticut they don’t have to prove grounds so that eliminates the head ache of a grounds trial if the defendant contested. Connecticut is an equitable distribution state like New York so that issue is a draw. In Sweden, I read somewhere that the emphasis is on “spousal self-sufficiency.” So as far as equitable distribution goes, a non-monied spouse may want to stay out of there if they want substantial maintenance because the Swedish court is apt to say, “get a job.”
So, where are we with all the gobledeegook? Well, the Davids probably chose Connecticut because it is a no fault jurisdiction, it is a convenient forum, and it is an equitable distribution state which made it the best venue for the plaintiff in this action. That’s my hunch and I’m sticking to it.