Everybody knows the stereotypical trophy wife is fit, fabulous and fifteen years or more younger than her husband. Her job, while she is “CEO of the family” is to “look good” make her husband “look virile,” be seriously
phockerlicious hot, and be available to satisfy her master’s every need, whim and fantasy.
Traditionally the trophy wife has not necessarily been all that “smart” but these days more and more Billionaires, CEOs of major Fortune 500 Companies, and Silicon Valley start-up tycoons – and their progeny – are choosing wives from elite backgrounds with impressive educational pedigrees, high profile jobs and, also, a seriously
phockerlicious and body to boot. But the husband is still usually the higher earner of the two, and when the marriage busts up, divvying up the loot can get just a little bit complicated.
It is more than just who will get custody of Minnie and Andy. Well, actually, a lot of these folks don’t even have kids. Modern trophy wives and their husbands are increasingly spending their lives working on their careers and building up their coffers and so, it is not usually custody of the kids they are trying to figure out. (Although the pricey purebred English bulldog might be at issue)
They are usually trying to determine who will get what percentage of marital dough, and how all those “perks” get split. I have to say, CEO perks are stuff that legends are made of. Trophy wives, accustomed to the good life, want to keep a lot of these perks at their finger tips. What are these perks? You are talking about lifestyles that include chauffeured limos, private jets, nannies, bodyguards, gardeners, multiple homes, estate managers, pool boys and personal bankers. You are also talking about priceless art collections, vintage car collections, stock option plans (both vested and unvested), pensions, charitable foundations bearing their names, and seven figure signing/exit bonuses.
Trophy wives want their fair share of these perks. They feel they deserve to have the same standard of living after a divorce that they had while married. The courts are starting to agree with their argument more and more.
Chances are good that there will be an “equitable distribution trial” in which the trophy wife will try to show that her husband’s net worth is much higher than he disclosed in his financial affidavit. Often, that has to do with how an item is classified, whether income, or asset, on the financial affidavit. If it is classified as an asset, then the asset has to be appraised and the present value determined by a forensics specialist, actuary or accountant. That is likely to increase the husband’s net worth significantly. But in many cases, the husband would try to classify the item as income, thus reducing his total net worth, sometimes by millions. Obviously, girls, we can’t have that.
Because the parties often can’t agree on what is “fair,” a husband, for example, might think it is fair to offer his trophy wife $8 million of his $100 million net worth, a judge (and sometimes a jury) are called upon to make that determination. In the 1998 case of Lorna and Gary Wendt (CEO of GE Capital) after a trial, the judge determined that “fair” was really more like $20 million and included in Mr. Wendt’s net worth “future stock options” that were earned in the marriage. Check out this book
At the end of the day, trophy wives have been good for other women involved in divorce actions. It is trophy wives like Jane Welch (ex-wife of GE’s Jack Welch), and Lorna Wendt who have helped re-define what is “fair” and what an ordinary wife is worth after a divorce. They are the ones who are pushing the definition of “fair share” to mean an “equal share.”