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Divorcee's Financial Claims 'Written in Vitriol', Says Judge

Divorcees cannot automatically expect to maintain the same standard of living they enjoyed when they were married, as one woman found out when a judge criticised her ‘speculative, experimental and unfeasible’ bid to win a bigger slice of her banker ex-husband’s fortune.

The 39-year-old woman’s demand for the lion’s share of £3.3 million in marital assets had been ‘written with a pen dipped in vitriol’, the judge said. Her claim for £60,000 a year in maintenance, 30 per cent of his annual bonus for many years to come and child support of £48,000 a year were all ‘unreasonable’.

Finding that there was no reason why the wealth built up during the couple’s six-year marriage should not be split roughly evenly, the judge observed, “It is a mistake to regard the marital standard of living as the lodestar.” The wife’s excessive demands had been fuelled by ‘the great bitterness’ she felt towards the husband.

The 40-year-old husband’s stellar earnings as an investment banker had been hit by a recent cancer scare, although he still earned £300,000 a year before tax. His cancer was in remission but he remained stricken by ‘great fatigue’. He had had to move to a less stressful job and his new girlfriend was expecting his baby.

Both husband and wife needed just over £1 million to buy new homes and, ‘as the weaker economic party’, the wife was entitled to £1,183,500 of the couple’s liquid assets. She would also need her income topped up until she qualified as a Pilates teacher and was entitled to half her ex-husband’s pension.

She had claimed alimony of £60,000 a year, index-linked for an extendable period of 27 years, as well as 30 per cent of her ex-husband’s bonuses, up to a maximum of £70,000 a year. Those claims were both unreasonable, the judge found, as was her ‘budgetary ambition’ of having more than £128,000 a year to live on.

Her £48,000 a year claim for child support was reduced by the judge to £22,500 a year – £7,500 per child. The husband was ordered to pay £30,000 a year in alimony and to pay the children’s private school fees. The wife was also entitled to 20 per cent of his bonuses up a maximum of £26,500 a year.

After the matrimonial home was sold, the wife would be left with the majority of the couple’s liquid assets and a little over half of their investments. That, ruled the judge, was ‘a fair and reasonable’ result overall.