If you have little or no control over the family purse strings, you can be left financially out on your ear in the event of marital breakdown. However, as a High Court ruling showed, a good divorce lawyer can move remarkably quickly to help you establish your financial independence.
The case concerned a couple who enjoyed a high-spending lifestyle, living in a grand house with the husband’s parents. The wife did not own any part of the property, and businesses owned by the husband and his parents were the chief source of the family’s wealth. After the couple’s marriage broke down, the wife’s continued presence in the house created a very difficult environment for all concerned.
The rival valuations that the couple put on the marital assets were some measure of the level of disagreement between them. The wife suggested that they were worth about £23 million, whereas the husband contended for a figure in the region of £8 million, also asserting that the assets were illiquid and not readily accessible.
Whilst living under the same roof, the couple had become embroiled in increasingly bitter and expensive divorce proceedings. The wife said that the husband had given her £500 a week as spending money and that her credit cards had been stopped. The personalised number plate of her high-end car had, she said, been sold and replaced by an ordinary number.
Pending a final resolution of the financial aspects of their divorce, the wife applied for interim maintenance and periodical payment orders so that she could meet her reasonable needs and, in particular, move out of the house and establish herself independently elsewhere.
Ruling on the matter, the Court directed the husband to pay her £13,333 a month – £160,000 a year – to cover a wide variety of outgoings. They ranged from £5,000 a month to rent a suitable property, £8,000 for a holiday and £7,500 a year for shoes, clothing and accessories. The overall figure was, however, significantly lower than that for which the wife had contended.
The husband was also ordered to contribute £433,700 towards the wife’s legal costs of the divorce proceedings and £150,000 in respect of her costs run up in other litigation concerning the couple’s two children. Urging the couple to resolve their differences by negotiation, the Court warned that their already very substantial legal costs bills would otherwise only escalate.