A good divorce lawyer, whilst ever ready to fight your corner, will always urge you in the direction of compromise. The reason for that was made plain by a case in which a wealthy couple’s self-defeating animosity resulted in them spending most of their liquid assets on litigation.
During their 22-year marriage, which yielded three children, the couple lived comfortably, enjoying an annual spend of more than £100,000. Their marriage, however, ended in ruinous recrimination and a total of 13 court hearings since then had resulted in legal bills of £594,000.
Although they had pensions and other illiquid assets worth over £1.2 million, their sole remaining liquid asset of any substance was the £630,000 proceeds of sale of the former matrimonial home. That sum only exceeded their debts, largely arising from the litigation, by about £10,000. Both of them were facing an uncertain future and at risk of being unable to meet their basic housing needs.
Ruling on the matter, the High Court noted that a clean break was essential to bring to an end the scarcely credible cycle of disproportionate and ill-judged litigation. The wife, who was the children’s primary carer, was awarded liquid and illiquid capital totalling £716,848 and the husband £514,847.
The net effect was that each of them would have liquid capital of only about £5,000. The division would, however, enable the husband to buy a mortgaged flat worth £250,000. With assistance from her family, who had been generous to her in the past, the wife would be able to afford a property worth £375,000.