Posted by Rachel Buckley on 27th September 2023
What happens to a yacht on divorce?

As the Monaco Yacht Show 2023 launches, our director and high net worth divorce specialist Rachel Buckley examines what happens to the family yacht on divorce.

When a marriage ends, most people quite rightly are primarily concerned with immediate needs like housing and income, especially for their children.

The division of assets isn’t always straightforward. Factors like the length of the marriage and how much mingling of assets took place come into play. Courts also consider the lifestyle enjoyed during the marriage. So, if you’ve invested in a yacht to elevate your social status or for leisure, that yacht becomes a key asset during a divorce.

Super Yachts and high-profile divorce

In high-profile divorces, like the 2018 case of Russian couple Mr. and Mrs. Potanin, a yacht can even turn out to be the focal point of the settlement. With a whopping £10 billion in assets to consider, Mrs. Potanin sought one of the family yachts as part of her share. Interestingly, UK courts are often considered a favourable jurisdiction for divorces with complex assets, leading many to seek legal proceedings here.

In another case, a supermodel demanded a staggering £196 million settlement from her billionaire ex-spouse, including some of the yacht maintenance costs. Her specific requirements were exacting, including hundreds of thousands of pounds just for yacht rental and provisioning.

But yachts aren’t exclusive to the rich and famous, particularly for those who have chosen life by the sea.  Boats and smaller scale yachts are often listed as assets.

In another famous or perhaps infamous case back in a 2005, a husband sank the family yacht, valued at £100,000, after his estranged wife advertised it for sale at a mere £40,000. Clearly, emotions can run as high as the tides when it comes to family boats.

What should you consider if you own a yacht and are going through to divorce?

The truth is, a yacht is treated just like any other marital asset, becoming part of the overall asset pool that is subject to division.

Divorcing yacht owners need to think carefully about the following:

  • The True Expenses: Don’t overlook the ongoing costs associated with owning and maintaining the yacht. These could be considerable and need to be factored into your financial planning.
  • Market Evaluation: Knowing the yacht’s current market value and how easily it could be sold is essential for making informed decisions during asset division.
  • Emotional Connection: Assess your emotional attachment to the yacht relative to other assets. This could influence whether you opt to keep it or are willing to part with it in exchange for other assets.

Yachts as with any divorce asset need to be thought about methodically. It’s essential to consult with specialist family law legal experts to ensure you’re making informed decisions. Given our firm’s extensive experience in complex divorce and asset division, The Family Law Company can offer the guidance you need to navigate this intricate process.

Need some advice? Get in touch today

Director Rachel Buckley is a multiple award-winning divorce solicitor specialising in complex divorce and finance cases.

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