In a world where women had few opportunities – especially before the mid-19th century – divorce laws and settlements were essential for women’s rights.
This picture shows the situation in which many women found themselves — tied to a marriage that gave them few rights or options, with huge obstacles to ending it. Shackled to her husband, she reaches towards the gate titled “Divorce” — but is blocked by a figure who represents both the church and the law (note the police hat and billy club).
Skip ahead a hundred years and we have a very different story. In a world where marriages can cost in the hundreds of millions, as we saw this past week with Kim & Kanye, we feel the need for expensive divorces more than ever – and these days 50% of all marriages end in divorce in the U.S.
But no one does divorce bigger than Rupert Murdoch, who has not made it to the top of the list a couple of times. After a 32-year marriage, he and Anna Maria Torv divorced, costing over $2 billion. Murdoch went on to marry Wendy Deng just 17 days after his first divorce finalized, and was ready to do it all over again 13 years later, with $2 billion.
On Monday, the history of divorce escalated to new extremes, as a Swiss court ordered Russian oligarch and Monaco soccer club owner Dmitry Rybolovlev to pay over $4.5 billion to his ex-wife. On top of the money, half of Dmitry’s fortune, Elena will get 3 different properties—one of which is worth $146 million—and custody of their 13-year-old daughter Anna.