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HNWI Divorces in Switzerland

Hey there! My name is Damien Hottelier. I am a Swiss Bar Association Certified Family Law Specialized Lawyer and I work in all French-speaking Cantons (a.k.a. la Suisse romande, Genève, Vaud, Valais, Neuchâtel, Berne, Fribourg, Jura).
Are you a particularly wealthy person getting divorced? You want to read this page carefully.
Your divorce will be both special and common. What follows is a mini crash course on the matter. In just a few lines, you'll learn the pitfalls of this type of situation and the recipes for getting through it as smoothly as possible.

Don't imagine...

... that you'll get special treatment. Judges who deal with divorces hate to give special treatment to one or other of their clients.
... that the rules relating to children will be different from those for ordinary people. They are exactly the same, including their protection and the protection of their assets.
... that you will come across judges who understand your life and the reality of the organization of large fortunes. This is rarely the case.
... that the different laws (divorce, tax, nationality, foreigners, etc.) will be consistent with each other. This is not the reality. There's a lot of juggling to be done.
... that it's always straightforward. It can be when both spouses agree quickly and act reasonably. Unfortunately and in the opposite case, the rules are very complex for a whole host of reasons.
That being said the divorce process can be managed efficiently and we have ways to ease things. The first thing is not to make mistakes. Let's review those pitfalls.

Pitfalls in general

❗Not finding the right zone between negotiating nothing and negotiating too much. There's a happy medium that's incisive, effective and worthwhile.
☢️ Not being the first. By being the first, you decide a lot of matters.
⚡ Not realizing that there are often several laws involved with very, very different rules, and that it's a team effort to determine the best path to success. Between family law and tax law, the choice of one country or another can change everything. And what financially matters is the total cost, including tax.
🔴 Not keeping an eye on what's going on. It's your file. You need to be able to understand the strategy being pursued and ensure that your choices are respected.

Swiss pitfalls in particular

There are pitfalls in all jurisdictions. If you are here, you might need to know some of the Swiss ones.
Exit is not the solution. Just because you leave Switzerland doesn't mean your case stops, or even that your ex can't take your case to a Swiss judge. And Switzerland decisions are largely recognized. Again, take advice. Take action.
Risks of paying twice. If you're on lump sum taxation (flat taxation), there are very specific problems affecting you to handle. You risk double taxation on what you pay in maintenance. This can lead to massive financial losses. We can move fast to limit the issue. As the Swiss law largely prohibits setoffs for alimonies, you might find yourself in a situation where your ex is not paying her or his charges but you end to have to — even if you paid an alimony who included this specific charge (!). This is a strong issue you need to take care before it happens.
Agressive taxation on divorce. Some cantons, e.g. Geneva, have an aggressive divorce tax system, with taxation of all assets involved and monumental court fees. It is essential to be familiar with these issues.
Not-so-easy divorce path. The official time limit for initiating divorce proceedings in Switzerland is two years after separation, except in special cases. This is a real trap. If someone told you not to move because of this limit, ask us. Really. In many cases, you'll need to start proceedings earlier, unless you want to run the risk of having them recognized in Switzerland, which could result in you being stuck in a country you may not want. Be first! Or if you're not, act fast. And if your favorable right is a foreign right, take it.
Establish the foreign law. Switzerland willingly applies foreign law in certain cases, but this is seen by a Swiss judge. Here again, defending yourself requires teamwork.
Reserved powers. Switzerland has broad reserved powers (children, alimonies for citizens, refusal to recognize foreign decisions in some cases, pension funds, etc.), but we have solutions.

Your roadmap: get your dream team and the right tools

1️⃣ You need to surround yourself with the right people and with the right tools, including :
By the people who are already around you, paying an extra attention to their loyalty in this particular configuration.
By dedicated professionals, ranging from divorce lawyers in each jurisdiction to financial advisors and asset protection management specialists.
By a common platform set up very quickly to communicate well between all these professionals. Don't underestimate the real need for best-in-class tools to communicate during this period.
2️⃣ You need to make your first choices very quickly. It's 🕛. And to do that, you need to list the pros and cons and choose.
3️⃣ And then act. Or prepare. Or defend yourself in advance, which is possible in Switzerland with complete discretion (what we call a preventive brief).

Why me ? Why us ?

🤐 Silent as a tomb. It's your business, not others.
🧘🏻‍♂️A zen guy. You don’t want a lawyer who shares his anxiety. Stay calm and solve problems. Without overreacting. Without underestimating problems. Just find the sweet spot and move on.
🏦 A guy who understands finance and accounting. Isn't it better to coordinate the legal aspects of a company?
🧑🏼‍💻 Tech-savvy. You really want a paper divorce case ?
🦈 Someone who will hunt for you when necessary. And will always be constructive whenever possible.
🇬🇧 Someone who speaks English.
🧑‍🤝‍🧑 A team-player. One important thing: I know my limits. I won't tell you that I do everything. When I don't know how, I delegate and supervise a specialist colleague. And I always need colleagues in other countries.
🧾 Someone who knows something about taxes. Tax and legal risks are always linked. That's how it is, at least here. Choosing one method or another often means choosing the right one for tax purposes. So choices have to be made.
🗓️ Answers quickly. Again, it's easier when using the right processes and communication tools.

Thank you for reading all this page. Take care.
I'd love to get to know you better so I can double down on the case you're most looking forward to cope with. This will only take 30 minutes of your time. I know, your time is precious.
Let's move forward together! Either book a meeting online or just fill out this form :
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