Irina studied at Moscow State University, specializing in fine arts, and then with the help of her aunt was able to get a job as an airline stewardess at Aeroflot in the international flights division. It was here that she met Roman Abramovich after he gave her his card on a flight. They were later married and have 5 children: 13-year-old Anna, 12-year-old Arkady, 11-year-old Sonya, 5-year-old Arina, and 3 year old Ilya. While Russian, the family was based out of the United Kingdom in London, where Roman owns the football club Chelsea. Irina has been named as one of the ten most powerful and influential blondes in the world, she appears to have had some part helping in Roman's businesses, and to manage his wealth at times, in addition to raising the 5 children, yet her full role is not known.
The family lived a hushed existence despite their wealth, often shunning the public spotlight. They travelled in separate cars for fear of attack, and so that they both would not be killed leaving the children orphaned They employed Kroll, Inc. for their security, which has former members of British Intelligence working for the company. They had several houses, villas, a "fleet" of yachts, and a "squadron" of jets and helicopters. As well they had a small wooden house in Chukotka, Russia, where Roman has been the popular governor of the oblast in far northeastern Siberia for some years.
In March 2007, the couple divorced in Russia with an undisclosed settlement, after rumors appeared in the newspapers that a divorce was imminent when Irina was seen visiting high profile prominent British divorce lawyers, including solicitor Raymond Tooth, known as "Jaws", and also barrister Nicholas Mostyn QC, known as "Mr Payout", and who has also represented Sir Paul McCartney in his divorce with Heather Mills.
One source reports she received a 300 million dollar settlement, including a house in Britain and one in Moscow, a yacht, and an aircraft. In addition to this, Mr. Abramovich would also agree to cover all expenses relating to the five children.