Billionaire Sir Allen Stanford divorce updates:
I read today that the government of Antigua discovered a few islands off the coast of Antigua that Sir Stanford bought from a Malaysian investor. They have seized the property and others, including the Stanford International Bank.
What if Stanford were divorcing his wife Susan in Antigua (his country of citizenship) as opposed to in Texas? Well, in Texas, a community property state, if the Stanfords had no prenup, Susan Stanford would be looking at close to 50% of anything he earned, bought and acquired during the marriage. Read our community property states vs. equitable distribution states here: http://www.divorcesaloon.com/community-property-vs-equitable-distribution-states-what-is-the-difference
But what would she get if he or she had brought the action in Antigua where he is not only a citizen but is also domiciled, living off a yacht anchored in the island’s North-Eastern shores for part of the year?
Well, divorce in Antigua is governed by the Divorce Act of 1997 which is heavily based on English common law. So influenced is the country’s laws on the English system, that they refer to legal professionals not just as “Lawyers” or “attorneys” but also as “barristers” and “solicitors.”
For sure, if Stanford had brought the divorce action, it could have been heard in Antigua pursuant to the 1997 Code:
5. (1) A court has jurisdiction to hear and determine a variation proceeding if (a) either former spouse is ordinarily resident in Antigua and Barbuda provinceor (b) both former spouses accept the jurisdiction of the court.
But Stanford is not the plaintiff. His wife Susan is. She lives in Texas, and Texas was obviously a more convenient forum for her. Had Stanford tried to have the case removed to the Jurisdiction of the Antiguan courts, she could have moved to dismiss his plea on the basis of “forum non conveniens.”
Texas is also a no-fault state. That means that one does not need to have a reason to get a divorce. As we discussed here, http://www.divorcesaloon.com/can-the-court-refuse-to-give-me-a-divorce, New York is technically the only “fault” state in the United States, even though other states allow other grounds other than “irreconcilable differences.”
So Susan would not have to prove fault in Texas. Would she have to prove fault in Antigua? Well, let’s look at the 1997 Code: Yes, it looks like fault must be alleged. Very similar to New York: Separation, adultery, cruelty. But nothing for imprisonment… that is interesting…
What about equitable distribution? Is Antigua a community property state or an equitable distribution state? Let’s see… I would say Antigua appears to be an “equitable distribution” state and support is not necessarily going to be “life long alimony” but, rather, would be durational alimony/maintenance. In which case, if I were Susan, I would definitely stay out of this Jurisdiction for purposes of my divorce from my billionaire hubby.
Interestingly, in Antigua, the barrister or solicitor has a duty to inform his or her client about “reconciliation” of the marriage, and to give them pep talks about marriage counseling. So this would be a good post for Susan and Standford in that case: http://www.divorcesaloon.com/can-marriage-counseling-save-your-marriage
But I worry about Susan. What will be left for her to get when all these governments around the globe seize her husband’s properties one by one?