Judge Warns Couple Who Has Spent 1/3 of Their Assets on Pre-Trial Divorce Hearings: You Are Headed for Catastrophe


We’ve previously blogged about various divorce proceedings where costs rapidly escalated, where the parties stubbornly maintained unreasonable positions and needlessly prolonged the dispute, or where the parties took a “vindictive, time-consuming and costly” approach to their divorce. This week we bring you another instructive decision that serves to highlight “what not to do” in a divorce.

The Guardian recently reported on a divorce battle waging between wealthy former spouses in the U.K. So far, the exes have spent almost £2 million on legal fees, fighting over assets that are worth no more than £6.6m- a dispute that the judge has deemed a “scandalous waste of court time”.

What Happened?

The parties in questions are owners of a business that supplies luxury towels and bathrobes to high-end hotels and spas. The business was started by the ex-wife in 2001 and the ex-husband eventually became a director. Their high-net worth divorce has not even reached trial yet and the former couple have already spent more than one-third of their total wealth fighting with each other.

The former couple have made various accusations over the course of several pre-trial hearings, including claims by the ex-wife that the ex-husband had arranged for a £1 million cottage she owned to be burned down in a failed attempt at insurance fraud.

In 2012, a previous court found that the husband had arranged for the fire, without his wife’s knowledge. Suspicions had been raised after insurance investigator had found a key outside of a building on the property, suggesting that the arsonist had had access. These issues were again raised during their divorce proceedings.

Concerns Raised by the Court

The judge at the most recent pre-trial hearing urged the former partners to negotiate and warned that they were heading “for a catastrophe”, stating:

These people have completely lost touch with reality. I don’t know where the responsibility lies; it’s probably shared.

The judge added:

This whole case is a scandalous waste of court time. Sometimes one can see cases where people are just absolutely determined to go on and on and on. I don’t know on which side the fault lies but this seems to be that sort of case.

The judge estimated that a further £200,000 would be spent by the couple if the divorce proceeded to trial and cautioned that:

If there is nothing left at the end, there is nothing left at the end. It won’t be Maseratis, will it? It will be a beaten-up old Ford if you’re lucky.

Lessons Learned

There is a right and wrong way to approach family law disputes. While a separation or divorce can be stressful and challenging, that does not mean that these matters must devolve into a lengthy, vindictive battle or that spouses try to destroy one another (financially or emotionally) in the process. You can protect your rights and interests without resorting to extreme measures.

If you have questions about your rights and obligations in a separationdivorce, or high asset divorce speak with experienced Windsor family law lawyer, Jason P. Howie, at 519.973.1500 or contact us online. We serve clients in Windsor, Essex County and throughout the regi

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