Divorcing couple pay £860,000 price of intransigence

Posted: 15th August 2013

The High Court has lamented the ‘financial suicide’ of an ex-couple who have spent over £860,000 – close to a quarter of their combined wealth – on worldwide legal costs.

tropical islandThe husband, a partner in a leading American law firm, and the wife, a successful doctor, had met via an internet dating site and had a son together but within two years of their marriage, their relationship was marked by aggressive arguments and violence on both sides. Divorce became inevitable and they separated when the mother wrongfully removed their son from Singapore, where they had moved after the marriage, and returned with him to England.

The Court remarked that it was a ‘human tragedy’ that the couple had since spent £860,000 fighting it out in England, Singapore and India over legal issues relating to their son and the division of their wealth. Their total assets were valued at around £4 million and the Court noted: “That they have already committed nearly one quarter of that wealth to highly charged litigation, and an atmosphere of intense emotion day after day in the courtroom, merely serves to underline the tragedy”.

Despite their enormous expenditure, the former couple’s case had not progressed even to the first stage of divorce and had become bogged down in a jurisdictional debate which the Court noted might ultimately prove sterile. The wife’s application for a decree nisi in England had been hotly resisted by the husband who argued that the divorce should take place in India.

Ruling in the wife’s favour on that issue, the Court found on the evidence that both of them were domiciled in England when the divorce petition was presented. It was ‘as plain as a pikestaff’ that the marriage had irretrievably broken down and the Court observed that it would be surprising if the wife encountered any further difficulty in obtaining a decree nisi.