A high-profile divorce case that could see the estranged partners fighting over a £4.5 billion fortune has prompted valuable guidance to warring couples from Thursfields Solicitors.
The advice comes as billionaire Dubai ruler Sheik Mohammed al-Maktoum and his wife Princess Haya Bint al-Hussein started proceedings in what could become the costliest divorce in British legal history.
The acrimonious split will involve not only financial aspects but a range of other issues including those relating to the parties’ young children, alleged forced marriage and injunction proceedings.
But Lorna Tipple, Associate Director of the Family team at Thursfields, said that whether a divorce was a big money case or a more modest one with limited assets, the starting point in UK law would remain the same.
Lorna said: “Whether you are a princess, sheik or Mr Joe or Mrs Josephine Public, there is no difference to the way your divorce will be approached.
On the financial side, all assets need to be identified, quantified, valued and then distributed fairly according to the circumstances of the case.
The disclosure process is utilised to ensure that both parties provide full and frank information as to all aspects of their finances, with supporting documentation.
Clearly in a high value asset case, arguments such as needs and standards of living hold much more weight and the Princess, in this example, will be arguing to have a post-divorce lifestyle commensurate to the one she enjoyed during marriage.”
Moving on to issues about children, Lorna underlined how UK courts would always base their decisions on the needs of those children being of paramount importance.
She said: “In each and every case involving children, the court’s first consideration is that the primary carer will have greater needs to provide a stable base for the children.
Issues such as school fees and extra-curricular activities all come into play in cases where there are high earners, and these aspects can be incorporated into a final, binding order.”
Lorna said that in certain cases, where there were sufficient liquid assets, a divorce settlement could be arranged to effectively “buy out” an otherwise ongoing claim for maintenance by the weaker financial party.
She said: “This has the benefit of affording both parties a clean break – a line drawn under all financial claims, with no risk of future come-back.”
Overall, however, she underlined the importance of couples seeking qualified legal advice at the outset of a relationship breakdown.
Lorna added: “In order that a clear strategy can be advised and implemented, divorcing couples need to get the right advice from experienced legal experts.
This ensures that a case proceeds in the most efficient and cost-effective manner, achieving the best possible outcome in the circumstances.”
Anyone with queries on divorce, financial or children matters can contact Lorna Tipple on 01562 512479 or firstname.lastname@example.org