High Court Roundly Condemns Delinquent Husband in Big-Money Divorce

When faced with the financial fallout of divorce, some people behave extremely badly – but judges know exactly how to deal with them. In one case recently reviewed by family finance expert Stuart Barton, the High Court publicly condemned the shocking delinquency of a businessman who flatly refused to pay his estranged wife’s maintenance and sought to bend her to his will.

The former couple, who had three children, enjoyed a luxurious lifestyle during an 11-year marriage, which was sadly blighted by the husband’s serial infidelity and abuse of cocaine and alcohol. After their relationship foundered and it became clear that there would be no reconciliation, the husband – who came from an extremely rich family and had multifarious business interests – denounced the wife as a gold-digger and began to subject her to unremittingly punitive behaviour.

By engaging in a process of financial attrition, he had left his wife and children at risk of eviction from their home. The picture that emerged was one of insidious coercive control in which the wife was left in no doubt that she and the children would only receive the husband’s support if she submitted to his will.

Pending finalisation of the divorce, the husband had been ordered to pay £45,700 a month in maintenance to the wife and children in order to cover their necessary outgoings. He had, however, refused to pay anything like that sum, instead making a unilateral decision to pay what he felt was reasonable.

Ruling on the wife’s application for financial relief, the Court found that the husband’s business affairs were currently in a state of flux and that he would need two years of breathing space in order to raise the funds required to achieve a clean break. He was, however, ordered to pay the wife an immediate lump sum of £647,732, together with child maintenance of £60,000 a year and school fees. At the end of the two-year period, he will be required to pay a further £5,181,000.

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