Judges frequently impress on divorcing couples that it is in their own best interests to put conflict behind them and focus on achieving a sensible resolution. However, as a case in which a couple spent £8.4 million fighting over money and their children’s future showed, such blandishments all too often fall on deaf ears.
The very wealthy couple enjoyed an exceptionally lavish international lifestyle during their long marriage, which yielded four children. The marriage came to an end when the husband unilaterally divorced the wife in a foreign land where she would have been entitled to no financial provision from him.
However, given her connections to the UK – amongst other things, she was born and had spent her formative years in this country, and was currently based here – the High Court accepted jurisdiction to consider her claim for financial relief under Part III of the Matrimonial and Family Proceedings Act 1984.
Ruling on the matter, the Court found that financial resources available to them and readily accessible in the UK were worth at least £70 million. Given her contribution to the marriage as mother and carer, the Court effected a clean break by awarding her a lump sum of £27,415,000. That, the Court found, would be sufficient to meet her income, property and other needs.
The Court observed that the culture of conflict that had grown up between them had been thoroughly unhelpful in resolving the matter. At every opportunity, the Court had urged them to take a more constructive and less combative approach, but to little or no appreciable effect. They had both expressed horror at having run up £4 million in legal bills. In addition, they had spent £4.4 million on proceedings concerning the children.