When it comes to divorce, family lawyers will invariably advise their clients that it is better to compromise than to fight it out in court. However, as a High Court ruling recently reviewed by Stuart Barton showed, there will always be those who insist on behaving as their own worst enemies.
The case concerned an apparently very wealthy couple who had failed to agree on anything since their separation. They were utterly conflicted about the history of the marriage, the circumstances of its breakdown, the extent of their resources and what was best for their young children. Both of them were citizens of more than one country and they could not even agree as to whether the wife was entitled to bring divorce proceedings in England.
At a preliminary hearing, the wife sought an order requiring the husband to pay her almost £1 million a year in interim maintenance pending resolution of the numerous disputes between them. That was to cover, amongst other things, property costs, general expenditure, education fees and the £126,000-a-year cost of employing two nannies. She also argued that the husband should contribute about £900,000 towards her ever-increasing legal costs.
Ruling on the matter, the Court noted that the husband had, for several months, not paid a penny towards the maintenance of his wife and children. The wife, however, had shown no restraint in engaging in irresponsibly excessive spending, much of it with borrowed money. Almost all items of her expenditure could be significantly reduced and her interim claim was grossly exaggerated.
In making an interim award that it considered affordable by the husband and that would meet the wife’s and children’s reasonable needs, the Court noted that, rather than seeking pragmatic solutions, both had chosen to litigate on all fronts. It warned them that, unless they resolved some or all the issues between them by agreement, the resulting litigation would be prolonged and ruinously expensive.
If you are divorcing, a number of issues may arise on which sound legal advice is essential. We can talk you through alternative dispute resolution options, to help mitigate the need for expensive and drawn-out court proceedings.