Osterlund has a net worth of $400MM. His company, Xacti, geneated revenues of $75MM per year. The article explains that Xacti "sold banner ads, video games and various other kinds of software, including “toolbars” that promised to clean viruses off your computer or free up space on your hard drive." I don't think the article really explains how this malware could generate such huge amounts of wealth.
The company's website  is nothing short of pathetic. The NYT article does mention that Xacti had legal troubles and was investigated for some deceptive marketing practices (like default opt-in credit card charges for trial software). At best, Osterlund is an Internet con artist.
But this still leaves questions in my mind. Can a simplistic malware fraud generate half a billion dollars of wealth? This mystery is compounded with a maze of sophisticated offshore banking structures, which sounds like more than just a way to hide assets from his wife. For example, could these structures have been used for money laundering by organized crime? Was this malware used for criminal activities beyond simply asking customers to enter their credit card numbers and charging them a few dollars?
His wife was allegedly involved in his business, and is trying to get a share of his assets in divorce proceedings. If this money had a darker story behind it, that she knew of, she would have an incentive to leave that out of this NYT story.
Absolutely. Traffic Vance was a great example of this. They installed adware on users computers and advertisers could bid on what sites you wanted your popup ad to display on and their adware would display your popup and charge you the money.
There are shady individuals who bid $10+ for a single popup on a site like StateFarm.com with a fake "rate comparison" and the infected user would assume that the ad was associated with State Farm despite the tiny disclaimer at the bottom.
On a site like CNN a shady weight loss supplement company might have a popup with a fake news story that pushes a misleading negative option subscription that is setup in a way where the infected user assumes it is a CNN story.
The adware itself is designed to be as subtle as possible so that the user is unaware that anything suspicious is going on and views these ads as legitimate.
Traffic Vance has since been renamed several times due to this type of scrutiny, are well past their glory days, and don't push their adware anymore. Despite all of that they are still making millions from all of the people who have downloaded their adware over the past 10 years that still haven't deleted the adware or gotten a new computer.
That said, nobody actually needs $400M, and there are plenty of people making $1M+/yr operating useless websites like viral news, quiz sites, etc. There is a ton of money in online advertising. Most goes to Google and Facebook, but there are still billions left over for the "little" guys. The rise of retargeting through Adsense has enabled even the most worthless of sites to show ads that generate reasonable RPM. If you can generate impressions, you can make quite a bit of money.
They have been around for 10+ years and are currently a shell of what they once were. They stopped promoting their adware years ago and that $6M/quarter is solely from all of the previously infected people who still haven't gotten a new computer. I would be very surprised if they didn't make considerably more than $400M over the life of the company.
They get the lion's share of attention because they're the biggest players, but that doesn't mean they're the only ones, or even that they own a majority of the market. People in general are not well-equipped to process the idea of a long-tail, where disparate players collectively make up a majority of the market but aren't identifiable as a single organization. By the numbers, there's room for about 400 $400M companies in the space of the online advertising market not claimed by Google and Facebook, or alternatively, for 1.6M sole proprietors who each earn a six-figure income on ad revenue alone.
Twitter, BTW, makes a very respectable $2B+/year in revenue. Their problem is that their cost structure assumes that they're going to beat Facebook; they're supporting 4000 employees with fat salaries & option packages on that revenue (Facebook, with 8x the revenue, has only 4x the employees). If they fired half their employees they could easily be profitable. And the company in the article probably has no more than a few dozen employees, hence its massive profitability.
Now...if you control the landing page and conversion funnel, basically delivering paid customers (vs. clicks) to a paying merchant, your value per visit goes up by a factor of 10 - 50. $.25/click vs. $10 - $30 (varies by product).
Now imagine a company that launches dozens of offers with hundreds of variations and plows it's bankroll back into the best (most profitable) version (for years at a time).
Yeah, $400MM is possible.
"Surprise" billionaires are popping out of Eastern Europe/Israel/Russia/Russian concessions every year.
The guy who ran ebanners/advmaker was said to have lost $1.3bn when Cyprus seized deposits. Before he filed the case against the bank, nobody ever knew of the guy.
They are very good at hiding cash. All those dumb banking AML rules are kinda useless as the easiest way to launder money is to run your own bank.
Just back in 2013, ads for sale of "1 day banks" in UK/Ireland/Delaware/Cyprus were openly published in Russia's number 1 business magazine.
What is this, I've never heard of it? Are there significant benefits?
Nobody to block your transfer and freeze your accounts simply for the reason you look suspicious and you are suddenly transfering a 10 digit sum to a *stan country.
And even if a higher tier bank with whom your own bank has a correspondent account will bother to intervene (which is highy, highly unlikely), you and your moneys will already be far away from the sphere of influence of the civilised world thanks to the fact that transaction settlement is nearly 100% automated and instantaneous for top tier banks.
I used to laugh a little 10 years ago even when people said spamming couldn't be profitable. Spammer could e-mail the same million people every single day, and still get 8-12 $30 commissions every single time for months.
Expand that to even a low rate of 50M e-mails/day and you can see how profitable it can be.
And the "web spam" made the e-mail spam market look pretty much trivial in comparison - before you even get into the outright illegal stuff like hacking boxes and doing drive-by installs.
[...] let the wife's lawyer describe them:
Oesterlund was “a highly successful internet swindler,” engaged in “internet scams, forgeries, tax fraud, bank fraud, HUD fraud, immigration fraud, fraudulent overseas transfers and other misconduct,” Fisher told a Florida judge.
Or here's the wife's defense of the business:
“Every time you click on an ad, someone gets money,” she told me, shrugging. “We were the people who got the money.”
"Their earliest success was a direct-mail firm called Credit Key Express, which promised credit cards to people with bad credit. Later they started Columbia House-style online membership clubs that sold discounted movie posters, books, DVDs, even dietary supplements. Xacti, which came to enfold most of their ventures, sold banner ads, video games and various other kinds of software, including “toolbars” that promised to clean viruses off your computer or free up space on your hard drive."
all the money wasn't made from malware, it just created a slush fund for other profitable(albeit questionable) businesses to be started.
Sometimes I can't tell whether I'm an ethical and honest person, or whether that's just an excuse for not being rich.
> By his wife’s account, some of Oesterlund’s new friends also began tutoring him in how to minimize his taxes.
That reminds me of how cheating in video-games spreads like a disease, socially-transmitted.  People enter into sub-groups where the behavior is seen as normal.
LOL. I ask myself this question every time. I look back at my life and wonder, was there any chance I could have screwed someone and got rich. Did I pass up on that opportunity?
Makes it sound like she married him for the money, but she didn't. While it turns out she really didn't know much about the accounts, she help start the businesses that made the money.
 > Robert Oesterlund wasn’t born rich, either. When Pursglove first met him, on a cruise ship off Helsinki in the ’90s, he ran a struggling flower-import business.
 This is truly stupid. In a marriage, a couple should share completely all of this information. Otherwise, do not get married.
 > Living in Florida and New York, they started a series of companies. Oesterlund came up with most of the ideas, Pursglove would later state in court filings, and ran the companies day to day. Pursglove hired the employees, trained them and helped manage the offices.
I disagree. Couples are allowed too be financially independent. Leave the information with your lawyer in case of death or accident? Sure. But not necessarily have joint management.
This is outrageous and patently false. No society in the world operates this way.
But Russia does
I have never been to Russia or studied the political structure in a systematic way. But I can still assert that this is patently false.
If it were not, the oligarchs would have absolute control, as it is they writhe (rightly, imo) under the jackboot of Putin. What about local regional and ethnic interests and loyalties? How do you account for state security and other sensitive sectors if you sell all your positions to the highest bidder?
A society run like you imply, would soon collapse. Competing money from oligarchs,the mafia, foreign intelligence agencies, rich corporations and so on, would rip it apart.
I get the western obsession with Russia bashing but HN readers should have a higher standard.
Yes, and it did
How about.. a vault?
a dollar - not really. A ten thousands can get you through a night at a not the worst club though :)
(my mistake actually - it was $140M and "According to the REN TV channel (in Russian), the money weighed about 1.5 tons: ")
Most of the related news are in Russian, and especially the humongous body of jokes about it - even for Russia, it is a bit out of everyday experience. I mean it is just a colonel and it makes any Russian FSB or police general who has amassed only bare tens of millions (or even just millions) of dollars to look like a complete professional failure.
According to Gazeta.ru (in Russian), the colonel lost his “protection” after the recent senior reshuffle at the FSB’s economic security department: The influential patrons he used to have there were removed, which allowed the FSB and the Investigative Committee to move in on the colonel.
The opening salvo of the war, like a comedy setup, was when the 2 opposing teams - FSB and the other side - tried to setup and arrest each other for bribery in a restaurant with the FSB team succeeding http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2015/07/27/the-double-stin... which immediately led to the arrest of the head of anti-corruption department of the Interior Ministry - general Sugrobov - and his deputy general Kolesnikov.
Many HN contributors are high-profile individuals.
If it were a case of wife wanting 99% of his assets, it would be reasonable to fight. If I lived some of these FoaF stories where the husband is wiped out, then I'd rather go to jail (and profit from an MRA blog some years later)
To many others, money is a high score.
Also, if you get to that level, I imagine there reaches a point where those things become much more realistic to obtain, and your expectations for your earnings go up. Why settle for $200M when you can have $400M like your friends? Why settle for $400M when you can reach the three comma club?
More money. Example...OPEC negotiated a deal today to cap oil output. If you are into trading futures or ETF's related to oil, you stood to earn roughly 8%(3x ETF's could pay 24%) of your investment. 8% of 400m is nicer than 200m.
Here's an example of someone who hand-wrote a $975 million check to make his wife go away:
Pride. It's not about the money, it's about "winning".
I think like you and I believe this is why you and I will never be billionaires.
I actually don't think it would be a crazy strategy to focus a business on the extremely high end of the market. I always think about the person who offered a $1m travel tour to each UNESCO world heritage site. Free to offer the theoretical tour, and charge enough that you can worry about the details later. Only ever skim-read about it, but I believe he got a taker.
Four movie studios instead of two! https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Korda_Studios
In terms of taxes, if you are hiring all those people, banks and lawyers to deal with it for you, I do wonder what the actual amount of hours it takes for this person to manage things. 3 hours a week? Slightly more or less? I wonder what the return on that time works out to be.
The article also alludes to the fact that most of this stuff seems to be in a legal grey area, like driving over the speed limit or something.
It's motivated by a revenge-like emotion, rather than necessarily reason.
Trump bought it not because of oil prices, but because it was huge (among other things, Allen used it as the team plane for the Seahawks).
Is that Trump's trillion-dollar infrastructure plan in a nutshell?
But then the subject changes, timeline changes and I can't find what ever happened to the laptop.
> That was when — and why — Fisher dispatched Pursglove to the Bahamas: to gather clues about where the money went. When Pursglove returned to the house to confront the caretaker that day, she told me, the caretaker admitted removing the papers from her suitcase. Bahamian police took custody of the papers, but later, and for reasons they never explained, handed them over to Oesterlund. When Fisher tried to subpoena the papers back, Oesterlund’s lawyers said he could not find any such documents; in any case, they wrote, Pursglove had no right to “stolen” materials.
But due to his foreign residency and citizenship, he only has to report the US-based income to the IRS, and the transfer pricing shenanigans are "legal" but subject to repricing by the IRS.
Speaking generally, if a corporation is owned by fewer than 10 US taxpayers, there is no effective deferral. This is based on the assumption that closely-held companies are being operated at the behest of the owners and will be structured in a way that is tax efficient for the individual owners.
Public companies are not subject to these rules, and they can defer paying tax on some types of income.
If I had to guess, I'd assume that everything was bought on credit, and the true net worth is somewhere south of $40M.
In case you're wondering here are some pictures of the Yacht. Keep an eye out for the gaudy paintings of Oesterlund in the yacht.
so perhaps has been written out of this story..
Best thing I read all day.
I've used "hide vast sums of money" as the basis for a long, serious screenplay based on the Enron downfall of the early 2000s in the US. Currently in review for edits. If you'd like to read I can make it available by request.
As someone who works in finance, and has a keen interest in how the murky side of that world works, I'd love to read your screenplay.
How are assets split if the woman (in the above story) cheated instead of the high net worth man and the man filed for divorce? Who gets what?
once you're a resident of another country you only have to share your wealth with the country you move into.
I have a "flight" response in high stress fight or flight situations, and can empathize with her response.
This. I always worry that if/when I get married -- in California where the Divorce laws are heavily in favor of the woman -- that I will be middle-aged, penniless, and will have to start over in my only known career (software development) that is brutally ageist.
So my sincere question (not trolling) to HN peeps. Are there any such banks / off shore options for the 99% not-so-wealthy crowd, whereby I could "squirrel away" just a few 1000 $ (maybe like 40, to 50K) so that in my worst-case-scenario, I don't have to start from 0. I understand there is no incentives for the "well compensated defenders" since the $ amount of such accounts won't be in millions, but surely there must be some countries / banks that offer this?
(NOTE: The intention is more to safeguard my individual future from a bad marriage and divorce and not greed. Hope you understand).
A prenuptial agreement would safeguard you more than attempting to hide money overseas. Another safeguard would be to marry a person who wouldn't be eligible for alimony due to preexisting income.
I consider this sort of optimization to be an inaccurate threat model, focused on outliers rather than the expected case. The expected case in California or any other state would be that the marriage would survive if not flourish (the most common case for upper-middle-class marriages), with a contingency that a divorce would occur amicably (the second-most common case). Screening for contentious attitudes is part of the due diligence of dating.
(only on HN would I ever expect to post something like this instead of the common-sense "find the right spouse and work on your marriage and you won't have to worry about this issue")
To OP: you don't have to hide your assets in offshore accounts, you can talk to an estate planner and look into setting up a trust (google domestic asset protection trust) and make yourself the sole beneficiary. You would no longer "own" the money and it's protected in a divorce.
Also prenups are typically worthless in the madness that is family court. Never ever ever rely on one.
Also, in a community property state like CA, all assets acquired during marriage are presumed to be "community property" of both spouses, unless there is a prenuptial agreement specifically describing the ownership of assets acquired during the marriage using a spouse's individual and separate pre-marital assets (i.e., pre-marital savings). Thus, an estate planner could not do anything to help you in this situation.
Don't be an armchair lawyer if you don't know what you're talking about.
Do you have some research on the topic? I'll admit my assumption has always been they are more or less worthless due to my anecdotal direct experience, and I've even had a family law attorney in my state make comments that also led me believe this was the case.
Are you saying that prenups are worthless in the case of child support or that prenups are worthless in all cases? In the case of child-related issues, you're right. However, in the case of dividing assets, I think you might be mistaken.
I've read stories of super wealthy people with prenups who did not get screwed; i.e., the prenup held up. The best example I can find is a certain billionaire who got divorced, but I cannot mention his name without creating irrevelant political discussion. He had an ironclad prenup and it held. That's the point I want to make. Prenups still work.
That's because we (the USA) have a two-tiered legal system.
lol would that be by any chance XXXXXX XXXX ?
Thank you for this real and actionable advice.
I found this article, and according to it, California does not allow it. I guess I'll have to move to 1 of those state? Not too bad lol. http://www.forbes.com/sites/ashleaebeling/2016/07/06/compari...
Is that the second-most-common case? I haven't seen a single amicable divorce amongst my friends and colleagues. The level of nastiness has been different, of course, but it's never been amicable.
Given the profound downsides that I've seen, I think that a prenuptial agreement is mandatory for anyone who chooses to marry in our era. Otherwise you're just going for the standard 'prenup' — and like the standard deduction on your taxes, it just ain't sufficient.
Now I only ever visit Cricket's website in incognito mode.
Let's be extremely optimistic and say 80% of divorces occur amicably.. that would give us ~10% odds of a nasty divorce--which I would not chalk up to "outliers"
My point was that, no matter how you fudge the numbers, it's impossible to chalk up bad divorces as outliers. Outliers are defined as 3 standard deviations from the mean in a normal distribution, so the parent was implying that bad divorces occur at a rate of 0.1% or less--which is off by at least one order of magnitude.
I kind of agree with your overall point, but that definition is wildly incorrect.
Because, unfortunately, it is way too easy to give up on a marriage instead of trying to work it out. Marriage takes effort.
 Preemptively, because surely someone will reply about it: If a spouse is getting beat, they aren't giving up on their marriage if they leave; they're protecting their life.
 is IMHO a fairly evenhanded (and comprehensive) treatment of divorce outcomes by state, partially written by an MIT CompSci professor.
It was an eye opener, and I wouldn't call it a men's rights website.
Shit happens, thats why we have audits, contracts and airbags and why many people avoid driving motorcycles vs. cars. There is stuff outside of our control and to get rid of unnecessary risk is a benefit in itself.
Why buy car insurance? Just find the right car and work on your driving.
Suppose liability insurance was entirely voluntary and not required by law. Would you get it? I'll bet you that most people with good income or significant assets would still buy it, just like people buy home or fire insurance even when not mandatory.
If I were you I will go to an extremely inconvenient experience with my girlfriend, like for example crossing the Atlantic on a small rented yacht or camping for a serious amount of time without the comforts of civilization. I have done this myself and it is extremely useful.
Your priority should be to know the other person as fast as possible, her priorities in life, her deep beliefs(and she doing the same with you). Not what she says about herself but how she is, how she behaves.
With hard experiences it becomes orders of magnitude faster than in normal life, in which acting-faking-posing is possible.
This way you will marry the right person. Even if the relationship breaks you don't need to be enemies. I had a lot of girlfriends in my life and most of them continue being part of me. If they need help I will help them without a doubt, but most of the time they are the ones that help me.
You are seeing a relationship as a liability, but a great relationship is a big asset by itself. It provides much more than the sum of the parts.
By being extremely afraid, you are not living your life in the important stuff, and you are not risking anything, so you are already losing.
Unless you plan to spend your entire married life on a small rented yacht, it's a silly idea to use it as a "trial run" for marriage.
I've seen similar practices backfire many times. What happens is that the adversity of the adventure brings the couple together and helps them bond, but when they return to their regular lives they grow resentful of each other because they no longer have the Adventure Stuff to distract them from their actual issues.
Every thing sells for money. Its just the figure.
If what the person wants from you is big enough. None of your on-the-yatch evaluations will even matter.
They will want that divorce, take that alimony and move on.
2 - If your masculinity can stand it, find a bright intelligent high earning woman for a partner. Who knows, she might owe YOU support in a divorce!
3 - Foreign bank accounts have tax implications, like FACTA reporting compliance during tax reporting. Your tax preparation bills will go up... unless you plan on keeping these accounts secret from the government? Then hey, here's a felony tax evasion charge for you! Say Hi to Wesley Snipes for me.
4 - You may wish to think about a vasectomy before marriage. In many cases, the woman has physical custody of the children so the husband has to pay her support for rearing his kids. This is why the law appears to favor women. In truth the law favors kids not being financially abandoned by their fathers. Anyway, you can prevent having to pay for children by not having any. A vasectomy is the best solution for remaining financially sound.
Is "you get half my assets" really the height of romance?
And before you say "well you can always see the signs"...sadly, no, some people are really good at hiding it.
What's missing from this thread is the psychological effect of breakups - on you, your ex-partner, your children, your friends, etc. A prenup doesn't wave away all that damage.
This is interesting. Does wearing a seat belt in a car equipped with airbags make you drive more recklessly? Does wearing a helmet make you bike more recklessly? This may be true for some people but not for me. None of those countermeasures claims to guarantee you'll walk away without a scratch if the worst happens - they are designed to mitigate damage.
I'm sure it's not a perfect analogy - none are - but what do you think?
I would turn your question around. How much does your potential loss from an event affect how hard you try to prevent it from happening? My guess would be the greater your loss, the harder you'll try.
When in the midst of what feels like an irretrievable situation, knowing that you stand to lose economically can make you go back and work on it - and that's usually a good thing. That's my personal experience, but I'm sure it's not true of all people in all relationships at all times.
One: of course the potential loss from a divorce is often not equal for both partners, meaning on some level they may - to your own point - be unequally incentivized to prevent a break-up.
Two: In some unfortunate situations it may not matter if you try even harder to prevent a break-up if your partner has made up their mind. Or, if you stand to lose more, concessions can be squeezed out of you in an unfair way. Obviously you do your best to avoid a partner that would do anything like this, but in the end you can't be sure for a variety of reasons.
That's a good point, and not something I'd thought about. Perhaps as I'm not very wealthy, these questions are so hypothetical that they sound a bit ridiculous to me. If I had a £200 million in the bank I might be more inclined to worry, no matter how in love I was. More money, more problems!
Is that still the trend these days? Are most couples able to afford to only have a single working parent anymore?
Also if you have a ton of money go talk to a financial adviser or do some more research, there's many ways to protect your finances from a number of scenarios that don't involve skirting the law. You'd likely have to disclose offshore accounts in the scenario you're imagining so you'd either have to lie -- which is illegal -- or it would all be wasted effort.
If you're asking how do I protect myself in the event of divorce, you yourself are not ready for marriage.
Correct. This is such a terrible thing. I'm coming up on 6th year of living with my girlfriend and I am told that California is also something like this... i.e. if you are living together for 7 or more years (maybe 10, not sure) that it's as if you are married. Terrible!
Australia and Canada have common-law relationships that aren't marriage but do involve dividing property in courts.
freelance consulting pays better and nobody gives a rats ass what you look like.
The only benefit to get married, legally and practically speaking, is perhaps for tax optimization.
I thought they were in favor of the less rich of the two? I.e. marry a richer women that you are and you'd be the favored one.
The reason for the apparent gender bias is that the woman is usually the less wealthy spouse, generally because the woman is usually the younger spouse and frequently leaves the workforce or takes lower-paying employment to care for any children that may issue.
If you want custody of your children, most of the time women win it. I believe this is true even if the man was looking after the children and the woman was working, although I'm not sure about the US.
- cash and or jewelry in a safety deposit box (will lose money every year due to inflation!)
- bitcoin or some kind of untraceable digital currency (risky!)
- buy hard assets over time that don't depreciate in value (fine art, collectible coins, etc.)
- transfer assets to someone you really trust
- life insurance policy that you pay into over time
Back in the day you could have bought bearer bonds and stash them away in a safety deposit box.
that I will be middle-aged, penniless
In an ideal world, no. But a co-worker of mine -- Indian guy from India like my Dad was -- with 2 kids got divorced, and his all American white wife (born and raised in Florida) essentially took him to the cleaners. I don't know the details, but apparently she "worked" the system by "getting fired" from her day job months before the divorce was initiated, and now he has to pay child-support and alimony and 1/2 their house (on which he's the only one paying the mortgage) while she is "rediscovering" herself with yoga, hiking and other trips paid for by my co-worker's alimony.
He is 44 years old and in a state of panic. I think the only thing common between me and him is that we share the same ethnic origin. Maybe I am over-thinking this, or maybe not. LOL.
Child support for 2 kids and 1/2 the house. Oh come on! You have to take care of your kids! And, like it or not, 1/2 that house is yours and you should help pay. Sell it if you need to get out from under the debt, but it's still 1/2 yours to deal with.
Alimony. Ok, maybe he could have gotten out of this.
All in all, this is HARDLY getting taken to the cleaners. This is pretty much to be expected (especially the Child Support!).
> Alimony. Ok, maybe he could have gotten out of this.
Even if the wife lost her job months before the divorce, she should still be required to seek work and/or agree to stipulate a particular income for herself from which spousal support would be calculated.
If one partner earns more and pays a disproportionate amount of the downpayment and mortgage on a house that both partners live in, is the house really only 1/2 theirs legally? Ethically?
And in such an arrangement, particularly where one partner decides to stay in the home, can the partner who is not there force the sale to improve their cashflow? If so, how should the proceeds be divvied up assuming that a disproportionate amount of money was paid into the house by one partner?
Makes sense to me. If say, the dad stays home to take care of the house and look after the children, while the wife works. Should the husband then be left with no claim to money/house if the wife decides she wants a divorce?
Maintaining a house and raising children are not low effort jobs. If you calculate how much daycare + a basic cleaning service would be year round, I doubt the cost would be minimal. Not to mention the fact that the person staying home will undoubtedly have a tough time entering the workforce after an extending period of time away from their careers.
Even if both work, how would you go about figuring out the split if the incomes were inequal? Do you literally just take the incomes and proportionally divide up the assets accordingly? What if the person earning more doesn't actually contribute their share to the mortgage, and wastes money on frivolous expenditures? How do you actually decide what is fair?
Being a homemaker is absolutely a high effort job, and cleaning/daycare are hardly cheap. You also are right to point out the opportunity cost of not being in the workplace.
These are interesting things to think about as I just don't think the matter is as black and white as some people might want to think.
Why work and make a living, while you could skin this man alive and have him pay for you.
This sort of behavior incentivizes divorce. Not that hard to play victim when you can get some one to pay for you all life, while you chill around beaches and make merry.
In a marriage, this is what you agree to, yes.
> If one partner earns more and pays a disproportionate amount of the downpayment and mortgage on a house that both partners live in, is the house really only 1/2 theirs legally? Ethically?
On the one hand, in the case of a spouse who brings significant assets to the marriage, or provides a significant monetary contribution to the marriage, their contribution is recognised.
But also, a spouse who has sacrificed a high-value career to care for children is given credit for that in a settlement, so that they do not lose out on their opportunity-cost. There are fairly standard practices for courts to determine the relative merits/costs when judging a settlement.
All that said, does it happen all that often that a court decides that the assets should be divided far from 50:50?
One variable is extremely easy to quantify, and the other much less so.
Almost nobody should complain about paying child support and 1/2 the house. Those are still responsibilities that need to be taken care of.
 I left this open ended because there are (very rare) exceptions.
> now he has to pay child-support and alimony and 1/2 their house
From the information given, that seems a fairly equitable split. Half the house, and a contribution towards his childrens' costs. OK, maybe he's the only one currently paying the mortgage, but in most circumstances, that would be a choice left to him: whether to keep his share (and equity) in the property, or sell it.
Child support can come up if your married or not and is based on how many children you have and your income levels. Your income can be imputed, which means your still on the hook even though you don't have that income level anymore. Child support is based on custody, which is a major reason why they turn very nasty in the USA/Canada.
It also sounds like they have a 3rd payment requirement in paying the mortgage. I don't know if that is voluntary or court ordered.
So this guy is paying
1. Spousal support
2. Child support
3. A mortgage
I can see him in that case paying out more than %60 of his income and possibly going in debt or living in his car to cover the shortage.
For one thing, child support ends once the kids are old enough. When and whether alimony payments end probably depends on the state...
I wonder how much citizenship played into his decision to marry her originally ? In that case he would have been using her for a ticket on the "all american" gravy train.
Nothing at all. In fact, he had already "earned" his Green Card by slaving for his Tech Employers for over 10 years. In his own words, it was "Love at 1st sight." Too bad it turned out this way. He says his Indian parents warned him against marrying a "Gori Ladkee" (i.e. white lady)
They forget that the incentives for lawyers in family court are REALLY screwed up, and definitely not on the side of "dividing assets reasonably and fairly."
I asked my otherwise-great lawyer a clarifying question about something the other side had said or done and he immediately went on the offensive, which ended up costing some money in response as well. I put the kabosh on that quickly, but I don't think most people would have even thought about it.
It would seem that the protagonist here would still be obscenely rich if he had simply settled with his wife.
> Oesterlund had begun exploring how to structure his business to insulate himself not just from taxes but also from future civil litigation. “I want to have in writing a statement,” he wrote to his lawyers in 2011, “that I can no longer be subject to Florida or U.S. law.” Take every step necessary, he added, to “remove myself from the country of Evil.”
> “Women get 10 percent in Russia by law,” Oesterlund wrote back. “In Dubai they get 0 percent.”
> Oesterlund had stopped making mortgage payments on the house in Boca Raton, she later said in court filings, and threatened to evict her mother and disabled aunt from a house they had bought in Wales. He warned Pursglove that he wouldn’t pay any bills until she agreed to a settlement.
Top HN comment: How can I be this guy?