London Is The Divorce Capital Of The World

English law is notoriously fair to the financially weaker spouse. Here are some high profile cases that have lost millions to their exes during divorces.

London is famous for being the divorce capital of the world. English law is regarded as being unusually fair to the financially weaker spouse, which can often be categorised as including housewives and stay-at-home mums. The wealthier spouse in the marriage will often go to great lengths to avoid getting divorced in England if they are a foreign national who has other options available to them.

Celebrity Settlements

One of the most bitter and famous divorces to have hit the press in recent years was that of Sir Paul McCartney and Heather Mills. The latter received a settlement of £24.3 million in 2008. The same year Orianne Cevey, who is the ex-wife of Phil Collins, received £25 million. The former Dragons Den millionaire James Caan is currently divorcing his wife of 32 years and it is thought that she will also be entitled to an estimated £25 million.

Access To Equality

When a couple builds up capital within their marriage, both partners are entitled to an equal share of these assets. Effectively in the eyes of the law there is no difference between the breadwinner and the homemaker. This means that the lower earner in the partnership can access half of everything that their spouse has built up in assets during their marriage, regardless of whether they have also contributed financially to the pot.

When Guy Ritchie and Madonna famously divorced in 2008, he received around £50 million, which was the value of the couple’s pub in Mayfair plus their Wiltshire estate. It is widely reported that this was an unusual settlement as he was unable to access more of his ex-wife’s larger amount of capital due to his own personal wealth. Critics felt that he should have been entitled to an equal 50/50 share of any assets that were earned by her during their marriage.

Earning Capacity

The earning capacity of both parties will always be considered by a judge. In the case of Peter Morris, he earned an average of £240,000 per year as the Managing Director of a software company. He provided an excellent standard of living for himself, his wife and their three children who all attended private school.

However, when the marriage broke down, the couple’s extravagant spending became an enormous problem and their multi-million-pound family assets were reduced to just £560,000. The judge ruled that only enough money remained in the pot to serve the core housing and daily financial needs of the wife and children. Therefore Mrs Morris was awarded £500,000 whilst Peter Morris was handed only £66,000.

The reason for this unusually imbalanced decision was the fact that Mrs Morris had sacrificed her own career in recruitment in order to look after their house and family. Mr Morris on the other hand still had many years of high earning capacity to look forward to, so it was considered that he would be able to continue providing for himself for years to come.

Even though there are guidelines and famous cases to give you an idea of how a divorce settlement might pan out, there will always be occasions when a divorce does not go the way that it is expected to. London family law firms are often able to give you an estimate of the financial settlement that a court could instruct. If you are separated or considering a divorce then it is vital that you hire a lawyer early on in the proceedings to provide you with honest counsel and protect you from financial ruin.

Megan Bennie is a trainee solicitor at Grayfords, a London law firm that specialises in English and International family law. Megan is due to qualify in June 2016.