Case law update

read time: 2 min

It is commonly known that January is a busy month for Divorce lawyers, with more people looking to start proceedings following the Christmas period.

This January has been no exception, with an influx of high profile divorces going through the courts and subsequent media coverage about them. You may have seen the recent press interest regarding high net worth financial settlements including Petra Ecclestone's and James Stunt's marriage breakdown.

In this case, it was reported that Ms Ecclestone was arguing over their joint £5.5 billion fortune in the High Court in London. Whilst the numbers are significantly different (and higher) to most financial disputes going through the courts, the principle is the same in that the finances are sorted alongside the divorce proceedings themselves.

In the Ecclestone matter, there was a divorce hearing in October 2017 but the proceedings relating to the finances are still ongoing. It is reported that Ms Ecclestone obtained an injunction to ensure that she and their three young children resides in the parties' £68 million mansion in Chelsea. The media have reported that Ms Ecclestone has been awarded "sole custody" of their children. The use of the term "custody" is long out of fashion and the term is not now used when dealing with matters concerning children. It is my opinion that if Ms Ecclestone has made an application regarding her children then the actual order made would have been an Order stating the children "live with" her. Sometimes arrangements for the children can be shared between parents, but in this case it is reported that Mr Stunt was awarded an order that the children "spend time" with their father. This term was previously known as "access", which is also a term no longer used.

Another case grabbing the headlines involves a Russian billionaire, Mr Akhmedov and his wife. It is reported that he has failed to comply with the divorce settlement. Ms Akhmedova is expecting to receive a 41.5% share of Mr Akhmedov's £1 billion-plus fortune. The couple were married for approximately 20 years and shared a home in Surrey. The assets in this case involved a modern art collection worth more than £90 million.

The financial settlement emerged following a court hearing in the Summer of 2017, and is thought to be the biggest financial settlement made by a divorce Judge in England. This case resulted in three Appeal Judges considering the legal issues of the case at the Court of Appeal. It is reported that the wife's legal representative has informed the Appeal Judges that Mr Akhmedov hasn't paid anything. Ms Akhmedov is also seeking interest on the outstanding amount owed to her and costs on top of this. We will report back once there is further news about the Appeal.

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