Billionaire, Rupert Murdoch, and his estranged wife, Wendi Deng Murdoch, have reached a final Separation Agreement, The National Post is now reporting.
The couple were married in 1999 after meeting two years prior at a cocktail
party thrown by Mr. Murdoch. At the time, Deng Murdoch, a Yale graduate
born in China, was working as an employee of Star TV, a subsidiary of
New Corp.'s Fox Searchlight.
Murdoch, now 82, and Deng Murdoch, 44, have two your daughters, Grace and Chloe. Murdoch also has four grown children from his two prior marriages to Patricia Booker, an Australian shop assistant and flight attendant, in 1956 and Anna Maria Torv, a Scottish born cadet journalist working for his Sydney newspaper, The Daily Telegraph in 1967. Murdoch married Deng Murdoch just 17 days after divorcing Torv. Murdoch filed for divorce on June 13, 2013.
In just months since separating, the former couple have reached a settlement. Aided by both a prenuptial and two post-nuptial marriage contracts, the settlement is apparently quite amicable. Their statement released to the public reads:
"We are pleased to announce that we have reached an amicable settlement of all matters relating to our divorce," the two said in a statement released through a publicist. "We move forward with mutual respect and a shared interest in the health and happiness of our two daughters."
The parties' Agreement remains largely confidential and still requires the signature of Supreme Court Justice Ellen Gesmer. However, The National Post is now reporting that Deng Murdoch will keep the couple's Beijing property as well as their Fifth Avenue Manhattan Apartment, purchased in 2004 for a then-record $44 million US.
If Murdoch's last divorce settlement is any indication, Deng Murdoch may be receiving an equalization payment in the $1-billion range. The National Post also reports, however, that the divorce will not affect the control or succession plan for Murdoch's two companies: New Corp or 21st Century Fox, both publically traded companies based in New York City. Currently, Murdoch controls both companies through a family trust that benefits his adult children, three of whom are actively involved in running the companies. Grace and Chloe are the beneficiaries of 8.7 million non-voting shares held in a separate trust.
Not uncommon amongst parties that have amassed a significant wealth prior to the marriage, the existence of marriage contracts in this instance likely saved both parties significant time and expense. That being said, such agreements are often a great point of contention between parties, particularly if there has been a lack of independent legal counsel or some form of undue influence.
While very few of us will ever accrue a fortune comparable to Mr. Murdoch's, where parties have significant assets on the date of marriage, or expect to make considerable sums over the course of the marriage, a contract setting out the parties' rights and obligations to one another may assist when it comes time for divorce.