Estranged wife seeks $35m in McCartney-Mills-style divorce battle

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McCartney-Mills-style divorce

McCartney-Mills-style divorce

She was married to a man worth more than $260 million, lived a luxurious life and wanted for nothing – but it all came to an end when they split. 

Now she is seeking a $35 million settlement, arguing she is entitled to maintain and enjoy the lifestyle to which she became accustomed during the marriage.

When the case went to the Family Court, comparisons were drawn to Sir Paul McCartney and Heather Mills, whose bitter and very public divorce ended with a court ordering the former Beatle to pay his former wife £24.3 million ($43 million).

Like McCartney, the husband in the current case had already made his considerable fortune when he married the younger divorcee of modest means.

The pair, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, had signed a pre-nuptial financial agreement in case their marriage broke down, but it was set aside by a Family Court judge last year.

There is a significant dispute about how much the wife is entitled to; the husband argues it is nowhere near $35 million.

She wants a court order for comprehensive disclosure so his financial position can be determined. He says his assets took a hit during the global financial crisis, but she may ask for a larger settlement if he turns out to be even wealthier than she thought.

In an affidavit to the court, the wife said she had made significant contributions to the marriage and welfare of the family.

She was the primary carer of their own children and also raised her husband’s ”extremely disturbed and very needy” children from an earlier marriage, enduring attacks and vilification from his former wife.

Her own ambitions took a back seat as she assisted her husband’s business, social interests and career development, and she ”instructed, supervised and managed various paid staff” while handling their domestic affairs.

The woman described her lifestyle during the marriage as ”luxurious and wanting for nothing”, Justice Paul Cronin said. ”That lifestyle came to an end and she had to significantly curb her spending subsequent to the conclusion of the relationship. On the other hand, she said, the husband’s lifestyle had not changed.”

While the husband said he could meet whatever settlement was ordered, he objected to spending time, energy and money on the complex exercise of establishing his precise wealth.

Justice Cronin said the valuation exercise would be expensive but it was all relative. When it came from an asset pool conservatively valued at more than $260 million, ”$100,000 or thereabouts is not significant”, he said.

The wife and the court needed to know the husband’s financial position to determine a just and equitable outcome, Justice Cronin said.

”The husband therefore ought to provide sufficient detail to enable the wife to understand how he calculates his [position],” he said.

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Categories: Binding Financial Agreement, Divorce, Family Law Courts, Financial Disclosure, Financial Dispute, Pre-Nuptial Agreement, Precedent, Spousal Maintenance
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